Tag: Japan

Two Americans in China in Japan – Foodie Fun!

Two Americans in China in Japan – Foodie Fun!

As our last hurrah before the baby comes, we went to Japan for the National Day holiday. We went to the Kansai area – Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe. It was amazing. I’m going to have to break up the trip report into different posts because there is just so much to talk about. The first thing I want to share is the food!

Japan in a foodie paradise. Any kind of food you want, you can find here, and so much more! I thought that I would be eating sushi and sake every day, but 1) sushi is not popular in the Kansai area and was surprisingly hard to find, and 2) there is just so much more to eat than that. I wanted to try foods that are unique to Japan, so here are some of the highlights.

Kobe Beef

I’m not a big steak fan, but I’ve been told it’s because I’ve never had “a really good steak.” Well, I can now say I have had the best steak in the world. Many people claim to have eaten Kobe beef before, but Kobe beef is almost impossible to find outside of Japan, and even in Japan it is prohibitively expensive outside of Kobe. So since we were staying in Osaka, we hoped on the fast train and thirty minutes later we were in Kobe, Japan. We went to a restaurant called Steakland and, OMG, the steak was AMAZING.

It really was as delicious and tender as people have claimed. It is melt in your mouth good. If you are ever in Japan, take a trip to Kobe and try this beef of the Gods. Your mouth will thank you for it. There were also a lot of other good looking places to eat, but we were so stuffed with meat, we couldn’t eat anywhere else.

img_1457 img_1466

Fugu

I really wanted a T-shirt that said “I ate fugu and survived!” but couldn’t find one. My husband refused to eat the poisonous sea creature with me, but I was determined to try it.

Fugu is the Japanese word for pufferfish and it is a specialty in Japan. The intestines, liver, and ovaries of a pufferfish contain a deadly toxin – one that is 1,200 times more deadly than cyanide. Specially trained fugu chefs undergo years of training to learn to cut the fish just right. Realistically, you are not going to die from eating fugu. The odds of you dying from fugu poisoning are lower than the odds of you dying from food poisoning in general. But the myth and the mystique of eating fugu persists, and I had to try it.

I opted for the raw fugu sashimi because I wanted the fugu flavor to be as pure as possible, but you can get fugu in almost any style, including inside dumplings or in hotpot. I went to a famous fugu restaurant in Osaka called Zuboraya. I thought the fugu was pretty good. It has a very light flavor and a bit of a rubbery texture. It was very good with the green onions and citrus wasabi they served with it. I would definitely eat it again.

img_1714

Whale Sushi

When I finally made it to a sushi restaurant, I was surprised to find whale meat on the menu. I had to try it. Whale meat is pretty easy to find at restaurants in Japan and is usually the meat of sperm whales. It is a dark, beefy kind of meat. I wouldn’t try it again though. I didn’t really like it.

img_1698

Ice Cream Parfaits

Japan is famous for these beautiful and delicious layered ice cream desserts. If you have spent time in China, you might be kind of leery to try them, but don’t be. Unlike Chinese ice cream, Japanese ice cream is delicious. The parfaits come in all different sizes and every flavor combination you can imagine. There are ice cream shops that just serve parfaits and have hundreds of examples on display. If you come across one of these shops, be sure to go in!

img_1394 img_1396

Fast Food

Of course, in order to save time and money, and for some creature comforts, we did check out a few fast food restaurants. I know some people scoff at eating at a McDonalds or Starbucks when traveling internationally (“you should try local food!”), but the fun thing about these restaurants is that they often have very localized foods that you can’t get anywhere else in the world, so we often pop in to at least look at the menus, even if we don’t eat there.

In China, it is very hard to find good donuts (we don’t have any donut shops in SZ or Hong Kong!), so we had to go to the Krispy Kreme in Osaka. They had some Halloween donuts that were cute and delicious. They had pumpkin pie at Starbucks. And we had chocolate pumpkin french fries at MacDonalds.

We actually spent most of our money in Japan on food. If you ever go to Japan, plan to eat EVERYTHING!

img_1436 img_1716 img_20161006_105821

 

Have you been to Japan? What were your favorite foods? Let me know in the comments.

Xi’An’s Very Own Capsule Hotel

Xi’An’s Very Own Capsule Hotel

Today’s guest post was submitted by Karen. I love staying in inexpensive hostels when traveling around China. This new capsule hotel might be worth checking out if you ever visit Xi’an. 

capsule 2Taking up an entire floor of a commercial center near Xi’An’s train station is China’s first, fully-functional capsule hotel. Capsule hotels were popularized by Japan, and China’s construction of the same concept is a nod to the Japanese culture that’s popular among the Chinese youth.

Each capsule in the Xi’an Youth Capsule Hotel is 1.25 meters high, 1.2 meters wide, and 2.1 meters long. For about $10 a night, people can sleep cozily in a capsule that is complete with a WiFi connection and a small flat-screen TV.

Apart from the hotel rooms’ personal size, Xi’an’s capsule hotel differentiates itself from the rest by having zodiac sign themed areas. The staff classifies guests into different star-sign zones upon checking in. Men can only sleep in the Taurus and Sagittarius zones, while women may stay at the Aries and Virgo zones. Guests who snore loudly are assigned to the Leo zone, the zodiac sign for lion.

The hotel’s staff says that the Leo zone is not meant to embarrass anyone. It was constructed in order to be fair to guests who want peace and quiet while sleeping.

capsul hotelWhile the hotel is still very novel to both locals and tourists, experts are worried about the lack of amenities. Hotels around the world rely on casinos in order to bring in serious revenues. Staying in the hotel may only cost $10 a night but apart from an Internet connection, TV, and a small area for table games that offer entertainment like ping pong, there are no other facilities to entertain guests. Pundits have been suggesting that the hotel employ the services of an online casino provider since there’s WiFi and a small screen TV inside the capsules anyway. It would be very advantageous for the hotel to have an online casino service, and InterCasino – one of the biggest slot gaming providers in the world – enumerates several benefits of such games on this page. The capsule hotel’s management, however, doesn’t seem to be very interested in the idea yet. But hopefully it’s only a matter of time before the establishment looks to offer more entertainment to its visitors.

The Xi’an Youth Capsule Hotel is located at Building 7, Wanda Plaza, Mingle Yuan Xincheng District, Xi’an.

Have you ever stayed at a capsule hotel? Where do you like to stay when you visit Xi’an?

If you would like to submit a guest post to Two Americans in China, email us at TwoAmericansinChina@gmail.com. 

Care for comfort women begins at home

Care for comfort women begins at home

The following was originally published in The Shenzhen Daily. It is republished here in full with links to sources added. 

Former comfort woman Wang ZhiFeng
Former comfort woman Wang ZhiFeng

HARDLY a week goes by that the Chinese Government does not criticize the Japanese Government for refusing to acknowledge and apologize for its crimes in China during World War II. Since 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War, the outcry against Japan and calls to remember the Rape of Nanjing have been constant.

One of the most controversial aspects of this issue is that of comfort women, a placid euphemism for the brutal kidnapping and rape of hundreds of thousands of women throughout Asia by Japanese soldiers during the war. Even though as many as 400,000 women suffered as sex slaves during the war, some of Japan’s top officials have gone so far as to deny the women even existed.

The suffering of the comfort women did not end with the war. The terrible facts of life after the war are described in detail in Peipei Qiu’s new book “Chinese Comfort Women.” Many comfort women hid their past as best they could because they were treated so shamefully by Chinese society. Today, only 23 comfort women are officially counted in China, but there could be many more who kept silent about their past after seeing their fellow comfort women persecuted again and again. Many of them then suffered humiliation and indignities at the hands of their own countrymen during the Cultural Revolution. Their property was confiscated, their families punished, and they were publicly “struggled” against as “Japanese collaborators.”

BN-DJ759_comfor_DV_20140624000037Even today, the few known comfort women do not receive any support from the Central Government, though a few receive a paltry sum of 100 yuan a month as part of local social security schemes. A report in China Daily describes the living conditions of the women today as “desperate.” The newspaper quoted Su Zhiliang, director of the Research Center at Shanghai Normal University, as saying, “Most of the former comfort women still alive in China live in desperate conditions — physically, socially, and financially — and they long for attention, recognition, and support from society.”

Caring for comfort women needs to begin at home. According to some statistics, at least 40 percent of former comfort women never married because they were ostracized by society. This leaves them without descendants to care for them today. Most of the women suffered from devastating health consequences — infertility, chronic pain, etc. — that can cost thousands of yuan per month in medical bills. Some of the comfort women are being cared for by NGOs and individuals. The NGOs and individuals are collecting their stories, donating money and providing funerals for those who pass away. Why isn’t the government taking the lead in these efforts?

In South Korea, another country whose women were abused by the Japanese troops, their comfort women are well taken care of. They live in special nursing homes and have all their medical and physical needs cared for by the government. Li Xiaofang is a photographer and historical researcher who has been recording the lives of the surviving comfort women for more than a decade. He told China Daily, “There are more former comfort women here in China than in South Korea, and their experiences were equally miserable… they deserve more attention and support.”

While the Japanese should apologize and pay for their war crimes, the women they brutalized are not Japanese, they are Chinese. It is the responsibility of the Chinese Government to care for these aging testaments to history. Waiting for the Japanese to step in and take responsibility for the comfort women is a waste of time and precious lives. The Chinese Government can act now and take the lead in showing the world how these women should be honored.

SIGN UP AND GET A SNEAK PEEK AT THE FIRST CHAPTER OF MY NEW NOVEL THE EMPEROR'S SEAL
We respect your privacy.