Six years ago I wandered into a bar in Kuki, Japan. I was giving Aya some alone time with her parents so I decided to set out on my own. Feeling a little overconfident and wanting a sense of independence and adventure, I hit the streets loaded with about ten Japanese words in my vocabulary and a digital translator dictionary that I had no idea how to work.
One very popular winter fruit in Japan is a clementine, or they call them, mikan (mē-con). Are they the exact same fruit? Honestly, I have no idea, but I can tell you they are pretty darn close. Back home in Michigan, I love to get a box of Cuties and eat them three at time. Here, you can do the same thing, except you can do a lot more than just eat them plain. There is mikan juice, mikan flavored yogurt, jam, cookies, dressing, and cakes, just to name a few. They are even used as part of the traditional New Year’s decorations. They are so common this time of year you can see them growing on tress throughout the neighborhood. Mikans are definitely a sign of the winter just as apples are to fall in Michigan. And just how we can go apple picking in Michigan, we went mikan picking here in Japan!
One neat thing about the hot springs hotel we stayed at was they had, for a lack of a better term, a vintage game room. This hotel called this room tsuruya amakaze yokocho. It doesn’t translate to anything because it’s just the name of the room, not what it is. But essentially it was an old fashioned room in the stylings of the Showa period, focusing on the 1950s-60s I assume, where you can play simple games, have snacks, listen to music from the period and drink.
This is my 8th visit to Japan. Each time I visit I’m much more comfortable, I question the food less, the customs less, and I go with the flow as much as possible. There is one place though that always remains a mystery to me; the Japanese hot springs, or onsen as they are called in Japan.