The Walk To Our Son’s Condo

The New Sanno Hotel, where we’re staying while we’re here in Japan, is just a 15 minute walk from our son’s condo in the NishiAzabu neighborhood. We have two choices of how to get ourselves from the hotel to his place: a) turn right out of the front of the hotel and walk along a busy four-lane thoroughfare lined with shops, restaurants and other businesses, or b) turn left out of the hotel and then take the next left onto a narrow residential street that takes us the “back way.”

Both options are quintessentially Japanese, but we always choose the second one, and this is the walk we take each day.

While most of the area is residential, there are also a few businesses along the way. There are also several vending machines interspersed on the road, most selling either hot or cold drinks, or cigarettes.

The street is very clean. There is absolutely no trash, and the sidewalk is swept the entire way. Japanese are master recyclers, and on trash days bags are neatly set out in designated areas with each type of trash/recycling separated for pick up. If there is a large pile of trash, the bags are covered with netting so they don’t spill out into the street.

Occasionally we see an old house among the new. The land the house sits on is extremely valuable, worth millions of dollars. Building a new house would also cost millions, so the owners tend to hold on to their old house as long as possible and then sell the land to a developer.

More older-style homes, probably from the 1970s and 1980s, with a new high-rise condo going up in the background. Almost every house and condo has plantings in the front, or at least some potted plants.

We pass a small neighborhood Shinto shrine on the way. This is one of the things I love about Japan, finding a very traditional shrine or Buddhist temple mixed in with modern homes and condos. Local festivals and services are held at the shrine throughout the year.

Halfway to our son’s condo is the National Azabu supermarket. The neighborhood contains many embassies, so there are lots of foreigners living in the area, and National Azabu carries a wide selection of “foreign” foods, although you will pay dearly for them. A container of Fage yogurt that costs around $4 back in the U.S. is approximately $19 here, and a western-style beef roast, if you must have it, will cost you your firstborn.

A studio apartment in the neighborhood can start at $2000/month, and prices go up from there. Many of the apartments in the neighborhood are larger than a typical Japanese residence, to suit Western tastes, and have amenities like dishwashers, ranges with ovens and such, things not typically found in Japanese homes but that appeal to foreigners. We saw an ad for a 683 sq. foot 1-bedroom condo (new construction) that was selling for $1.25 million dollars!

A sculpture adorns a corner of an apartment building along the way.

Our son’s condo is just nine stories tall, but all units open into an inner courtyard, which is a feature our son and his wife wanted after the big earthquake in 2011. A mixture of foreigners and Japanese live in the building, and there is rarely ever a unit available for rent. An apartment/condo building will always have balconies; a commercial building won’t.

I have yet to go to any residence in Japan, whether it’s a house, condo, or high-rise apartment, that doesn’t have an intercom system used to announce your presence, whether you’re family or a tradesperson. Modern intercoms, like at our son’s condo, also have video capability, so you can see who is asking to be let in.

Everyone takes off their shoes in the genkan before stepping up into a Japanese home. When you take your shoes off, you turn them to point out so that all you have to do is slip them on to leave (we fail miserably at this). All homes have a spacious shoe closet built next to the genkan.

What no photo can capture is how safe the neighborhood is. Cars watch out for people walking. You can walk alone at night and not worry about being accosted. You can leave your umbrella or your bicycle outside a store and it will be there when you come out.

Sunday Evening 3/19/2017

We had a nearly 4-hour layover in Honolulu before heading to Japan.

We’re here!

The flight over was long, but comfortable – we were all very happy we had upgraded to the premium economy level. Brett said it felt like there was almost too much legroom! We were fed well, including a mid-flight snack of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream – that was a first. Delta provided a large selection of movies to choose from, and I was able to see La La Land (meh), Manchester By the Sea (excellent), and Florence Foster Jenkins (very enjoyable and fun) as well as fit in a short nap. Clearing immigration and customs was easy once we arrived at Narita, and our son and grandson were waiting for us when we came out. After that it was a short walk to catch the express train into Tokyo, with the ride to our station just slightly over an hour.

We took taxis from the station over to the New Sanno and got checked in, then unpacked all the gifts out of our suitcases and got them into the appropriate gift bags and headed over to our son’s condo to meet our granddaughter and have a celebratory dinner of sushi and some other goodies. At that point Brett, YaYu and I though were about to drop dead – we had been up for nearly 22 hours! Our room is very comfortable, and we all had a good night’s sleep.

Our sweet baby girl!

Our new granddaughter is a delight! She’s a very happy and easy-going baby, and lets each of us pick her up and hold her without any fussing. Our grandson is a bundle of energy and a load of fun to be around. He’s a fantastic big brother too – very loving and tender with his little sister.

We had an enjoyable, and relaxing day today beginning with breakfast at the hotel followed by a walk to a nearby supermarket and bakery to purchase breakfast items we can have in the room starting tomorrow. Then we headed over to our son’s and all of us went to the train-themed curry restaurant for lunch. It’s a small place that seats only around 15 people maximum, with the whole place covered in Japanese train and station memorabilia. Meals are delivered to the table via a large model train that runs around the restaurant! The owner and chef came out after we had finished and talked with Brett (who loves trains), and told him about many of the pieces he had collected over the years while our son translated. Then it was back to the hotel with our son and grandson for a swim followed by dinner at the hotel restaurant. Brett and YaYu have collapsed, but here I am wide awake!

The Niagara curry restaurant sports loads of train memorabilia inside and out. Our grandson is checking out a vending machine in front that sells miniature train cars. (Yes, grandma bought him one.)
Menu choices are posted on a board outside the restaurant. In the upper left corner is the kid’s meal – it arrives on a train plate. Inside the restaurant, you actually order using a trai ticket machine!
The seats for each booth are from old trains, with the original blue velvet upholstery. Track can be seen on the ledge beside the table – a model trains delivers each dish from the kitchen to your table – fun!
An employee of the restaurant makes balloon sculptures for children because usually everyone has to wait for a table. He made our grandson Super Mario this time.

This evening I am:

  • Reading: I brought along my Kindle but have not had time yet to start A Man Called Ove. Maybe tomorrow.
  • Listening to: The room is perfectly quiet – both Brett and YaYu are sleeping.
  • Watching: Nothing so far, although I want to check out Japanese TV while we’re here to see if I can understand any of it. One thing that’s quite different these days from when we lived here is that every U.S. cable channel is available for the military. Back then we had just one English channel (Far East Network) which mostly carried old or dated shows and loads of public service announcements.

    I had vegetable curry with green pepper, carrots, eggplant, and kabocha pumpkin – so delicious!
  • Eating: We had American breakfasts in the hotel this morning – very good, very filling and very reasonable. Then lunch at the curry restaurant, and dinner again with our son and grandson at the hotel following their swim. Tomorrow we’re hoping to eat either tonkatsu (pork cutlet) or ramen while we’re out.
  • Happy I accomplished this last week: We’re in Japan!
  • Looking forward to next week: Tomorrow and the day after we’re babysitting our grandchildren, and tomorrow after we’re done Brett, YaYu and I plan to go to the Ginza to check out Ito-ya, a very old and famous paper store with 12 stories of all things related to paper, including one whole floor dedicated to pens and pencils. We’ll also hopefully have a chance to check out the Tokyo Kabuki theater, which is nearby. As for the rest of the week, we’re just going to play it by ear.

    Three of our favorite KitKat flavors: Rum raisin, wasabi, and strawberry cheesecake. We’ve already found a new flavor this trip: sake!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: The KitKat hunt is off to a good start! The small Navy Exchange in the hotel now carries KitKats, and we were able to get four different flavors, including a new one: sake, which contains real alcohol. Although I’ve been feeling like I haven’t been getting all that much from my Japanese lessons with Rosetta Stone, I’m surprised by how much I can understand now that I’m here, and how much I can read. I’m still incapable of putting a sentence together though. And, it turns out I don’t need to buy a pre-paid SIM card for my phone here. Our very affordable phone plan in the U.S. turned out to include free data and texting in Japan, and reasonable prices if we decide to call while we’re in country (which we would do only in case of emergency). $$ saved!
  • Grateful for: We’re all so thankful (and fortunate) our son speaks Japanese – in just the time we’ve been here he’s been hugely helpful making sure we understand what’s going on, that we buy the right ticket, that taxi drivers get us to the right place and so forth. And, we have the most wonderful daughter-in-law in the world. I’m not sure what we did to deserve her.

    Two treats: ohagi and sakura mochi. The ohagi looks black, but the sweet beans are actually a very deep purple.
  • It’s so Japanese-y: I love Japanese sweets even though they’re not very sweet by American standards. Today my daughter-in-law stopped at a wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) shop on our way back to the station from the curry restaurant, and bought me a sakura mochi, my all-time favorite, made of sweet beans inside a thin layer of mochi, and then wrapped in a pickled cherry tree leaf. The briny leaf perfectly compliments the sweet mochi and bean filling. Sakura mochi is only available for a short time every year, around cherry blossom season which is coming up soon. Brett got an ohagi: a layer of sweet beens over a mochi filling.

That’s it for this Sunday from Japan. How was your week? What have you been doing? What good things happened for you?

Five Frugal Things: 3/17/2017

We’re on our way today, but had some frugal wins this past week to report:

  1. Although “premium” snacks are provided for free on our flight to Japan (which includes fresh fruit – yeah!), we’re still packing our own snacks for airport layovers and the long train ride into Tokyo: beef jerky, Chimes ginger chews, Pringles for Brett and YaYu (less messy than regular chips), and Pockys (pronounced poke-y) for YaYu.
  2. We’re bringing along an empty stainless steel water bottle and will fill it with filtered water for free at the Honolulu airport rather than buy expensive bottled water.
  3. By watching fares and being ready to buy early, we got the lowest price for our RT flights to Japan and back, saving 2/3 of what it would have cost to purchase the same premium economy seats the past couple of months.
  4. We’d been talking about adding Hulu to our streaming services as we’re running out of shows we like on Amazon and Netflix, so this past week I signed up through Swagbucks and earned an additional 2,500 points, or $25 in Amazon credit. We’re going to try Hulu for three months ($23.97) and see how we like it, and if we don’t use it that much we’ll cancel.
  5. This past week we ate up all the leftovers and produce, and don’t have to throw anything out before we leave this morning. All that’s left in the fridge are condiments and a jar of peanut butter.

We’re looking forward to a fun and frugal time in Japan. I’ll try to post a couple of times while we’re there, but otherwise, I’ll be back in a couple of weeks!

Three Good Things

  1. Everything fit into our suitcases and bags! Actually, we were able to get all the gifts into just Brett’s and my bags – we are ready to go!
  2. Meiling was hired for the summer position at the University that she interviewed for last week. The position will give her free room and board on campus during the summer, and a nice fat check right before she heads back to classes in the fall, enough to cover over half of her living expenses next year.
  3. We spent an absolutely lovely afternoon at the beach on Tuesday!

This Week’s Menu: Eating In Japan

 

One of my all-time favorite meals in Japan: vegetable tempura and zaru soba. No soba for me this time though.

Because we take off on our Japan adventure in a few days there was no sense in making a menu this week. The mission continues to be making sure everything perishable in the fridge gets eaten before we go. We had to postpone a couple of days from last week’s menu in order to use some things before they turned on us, so tonight we’re having lumpia, rice and coleslaw (to use up the last of some cabbage) and tomorrow we’ll be having the homemade fishcake sandwiches we didn’t get to have last week. YaYu has a track meet on Thursday afternoon/evening, and Brett will be taking leftovers along for himself and YaYu, and I’ll figure out something here at home. We obviously won’t be going to the farmers’ market, but as it turned out our favorite farmers won’t be there either – they’re going home to Thailand for two weeks..

The past few days we’ve been thinking and talking about what we want to eat while we’re in Japan. We’ve come up with a few must-eats for this trip:

Tonkatsu – Brett and I will probably share an order.
  • Ramen: YaYu LOVES ramen, and she didn’t get to eat this the last time we were in Japan. So, we have promised her we will stop at a ramen stand and she can eat her fill.
  • Tonkatsu: This is a very tender pork cutlet coated in panko crumbs and fried, served with finely shredded cabbage and rice, as well as a delicious sauce. I will skip the rice, but think otherwise I’m good to go with this dish.
  • Curry: Our grandson wants to take us to his favorite curry restaurant, designed to look like an old train car. Other than the rice, curry is low-carb, so I’ll just ask for my rice on the side (and skip it).
  • Sushi: The real deal. I plan to order chawan mushi though, a savory custard with shrimp that’s served at sushi restaurants, and also some sashimi.
  • Tempura: Again, this is one of those things that just tastes better in Japan. I love vegetable tempura!

Here are some things I sadly won’t be eating this time in Japan:

  • Rice: No rice means going without one of my favorite Japanese meals, katsudon, a breaded pork cutlet cooked with onions and egg, and served over rice.
  • Hato Sabure: I know we’ll buy some of Kamakura’s famous “bird cookies” to bring home, but none for me this time. Maybe Brett will let me take a bite from one of his.
  • Bakery goods: This one is going to be difficult, as Japan has incredible bakeries, and I will especially miss not having the world’s most delicious raisin bread that I was so looking forward to (it comes from the bakery across the street from our son’s condo). I’ll also have to skip having one of the amazing almond cookies from Chinatown.
  • McDonald’s teriyaki burger and yogurt shake: These are the only items I’ll ever eat from McDonald’s, and only in Japan. Not this time though.
  • Crepes from Harajuku: I’m making a sad face right now as I write this, but Brett said I can have a bite of his.

I know I will be telling myself, “Come on, you’re in Japan – enjoy yourself!” but I also know now that I would pay dearly for any of them so hopefully I’ll be able to resist so much temptation.

The Sakura Blossom Creme Frappuchino and Latte was this year’s special flavor, and today (3/14) is the last day they’re available. So sad!

We’ll also miss by a couple of day this year’s special cherry blossom Frappuchino at Starbucks. They create a new flavor every year, and this year’s looked especially good. Oh well.

But Will It All Fit?

Gifts play an important role in Japanese culture, so any trip to Japan for us means taking gifts for family and others . . .  and in our case this usually means lots of gifts. However, Brett, YaYu and I will only each be taking a carry-on bag, and one additional bag for under-seat stowage (tote bag for me; backpacks for Brett and YaYu), so making sure everything fits and arrives in good condition will be a bit of a challenge.

Besides clothing for eleven days, here’s what we’ve got to fit into our luggage this time:

Gifts for our granddaughter: Two onesies, a Hawaiian-print sundress, some leggings, a stuffed hippo, a feeding set, and some ocean-themed blocks.

For our grandson: Star Wars Lego set (he’s obsessed with both right now), Star Wars Lego t-shirt, six boxes of macaroni & cheese, and two packages of tortillas (for quesadillas). Tortillas and mac & cheese are available in Japan, but are super expensive.

For our daughter-in-law, Kona coffee and Kaua’i made soap.

We’re giving our son some of his U.S. favorites that are unavailable in Japan. He especially loves anything chocolate & mint, and it’s hard if not impossible to find in Japan. We’ll also get him two to three cases of Diet Coke from the mini mart in the hotel while we’re there – you can’t buy it otherwise in Japan, and he loves it.

We’ll probably get together with our daughter-in-law’s parents, so we’re prepared with a small gift of Hawaiian items: Kona coffee, chocolate covered macadamia nuts, and Kaua’i-made cookies.

Because it’s so ridiculously expensive now to mail anything to Japan, we are taking along some of our granddaughter’s first birthday gift: eight board books, a birthday card and gift bag. We’ll buy a couple of other things while we’re there for them to put away until her birthday.

We’re also taking several gift bags, tissue paper and tape, and will assemble and wrap everything once we get to our hotel room. Presentation is important in Japan!

The big question as we start this week is whether we can get all of this to fit into our bags. I think we can – the only “big” items are the box of cereal and the Lego set. Brett is a master packer (and I’m no slouch), and I’m confident will find ways to squeeze everything in. We do have some Space Bags to use if we need them, but I’m hoping they won’t be needed.

Fingers crossed!

Sunday Afternoon 3/12/2017

It’s been too long since we’ve enjoyed this view! We’re hoping, if the weather cooperates, for a chance to go this week in between trip prep activities.

It’s very exciting to think that a week from now we will be in Japan! We’ve entered trip prep mode, and are taking care of things like making sure all our bills are paid and other household chores are done before we go. Packing will commence next Wednesday – we’ve got our fingers crossed we can fit everything into our bags. Our suitcases are definitely going to be a lot lighter coming home than going over!

In spite of all her fundraising, we still have been spending a lot for YaYu’s activities recently. There seems to always be something she needs, and Brett and I have felt like money has been flying out of our accounts the past few months. Next month we have to buy a graphing calculator and earphones ($$$) for her AP/SAT testing in May and for calculus next year. However, next month will be the last for Chinese tutoring, so that will help, and we’ll hopefully get a break over the summer before her senior year starts up. We used to think Meiling was the expensive one, but YaYu has broken all records. She’s not a demanding kid, and a good fundraiser, but when the heck did high school get so expensive?

I am probably the only person around who welcomed the arrival of Daylight Savings today. Why? Because a) Hawai’i doesn’t do daylight savings, and b) it means I can start a new day of Swagbucks at 9:00 p.m. versus waiting until 10:00 p.m. The new Swagbucks day starts at 12:00 a.m. PST, and with DST that means 9:00 p.m. here. I try to earn my daily goal before I go to bed at night, and starting at 10:00 has meant sometimes staying up later than I wanted. I will be taking a break from SB while we’re in Japan, mainly because I can’t access the site from there, but plan to be right back at it as soon as we return.

One more thing: For some unknown reason I have been having a difficult time commenting on some blogs hosted by Blogger. I write a comment, hit publish and the comment vanishes into the ether. But, on other Blogger blogs, no problem. I don’t know what’s going on or why, but I have tried to comment on several blogs recently with no success. I’m still faithfully reading though!

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I tried a tip from Barbara at Living Richly in Retirement and set my Kindle to airplane mode (i.e. shut off the WiFi connection) which means that I can continue reading Nobody’s Fool even though the download has expired. I just downloaded A Man Called Ove from the library this morning, so as soon as I finish Nobody’s Fool I will be digging into that.
  • Listening to: I woke up this morning to the sound of the washing machine – Brett’s getting an early start on today’s laundry. It’s beautiful outside today, and the birds are singing like crazy. It almost sounds like we’re in the middle of a nature documentary! We’ve heard some of our neighbors outside, but otherwise it’s pretty quiet around here.
  • Watching: Brett and I are still watching Ripper Street, but are now in the last season available on Netflix. We’ll have to find something new after we get home.
  • Cooking/baking: We were supposed to have baked chilis rellenos for dinner tonight, but I had to postpone  them and a couple of other meals from last week’s menu to fit in some things that needed using up quickly. So, tonight we’ll be having the pork noodles that we were supposed to have this past Thursday. I’ll probably bake another cake this afternoon or tomorrow – any leftovers can go in the freezer before we leave.

    I made this chain to remind me how many months we have to save until our Mystery Big Adventure™ next year!
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I worked out our budget for the next six months to see if it was possible to kick up the amount we put into savings. My income is going to change mid-way through though because I go on Medicare in May, so we will lose the amount for that payment every month, and working around that was tricky, but doable. The family that YaYu will be staying with in Honolulu during the orientation for her summer trip to China will be on Kaua’i the day we return from Japan, and we set up a lunch date with them so they could meet YaYu and she won’t feel like she’s staying with total strangers. I got in all my bike rides (105+ miles ridden, 3885+ calories burned), drank all my water, and studied Japanese and Portuguese every day.
  • Looking forward to next week: Japan! Our flight from Lihue over to Honolulu leaves before 7:00 in the morning, which means we will have a nearly four-hour layover at the Honolulu airport before our departure for Japan. We’re planning to have breakfast once we get to the Honolulu airport, probably coffee and breakfast sandwiches from Starbucks for Brett and YaYu, and fruit for me. Although it’s going to be a busy week, Brett and I are hoping that the weather and our schedule will align so we can go to the beach for a couple of hours.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Both Meiling and WenYu have received their financial aid awards for next year, and they’re pretty much a repeat of this year’s so we’re all happy. They each got a generous award directly from their respective colleges and each got a small Pell Grant. WenYu was offered a small Federal loan but won’t take it because she’s saved enough to cover the rest of her costs, and plans to work this summer to begin earning for the following year. Meiling will continue to earn enough from her job to cover her own room and board. WenYu and her roommate applied to room together again next year, in the same dorm, so that’s taken care of as well. Meiling just interviewed for a summer job at the college that will provide room and board, and she’s already found a roommate for apartment sharing next year, so that’s settled as well. We put $8.53 into the change/$1 bill jar.
  • Grateful for: I am feeling very thankful right now that YaYu’s high school requires students to wear a uniform – it has saved us a great deal of money. All she needs to be outfitted properly are shorts, a school related t-shirt, and flip flops, and she’s good to go. We will have to buy her new running shoes this fall, and probably a couple of team tank tops, but otherwise she is set for her senior year.
  • Bonus question: What do you think would surprise your parents most about you now? I think both would be surprised by what a good money manager I am. They both saw me as flighty and unserious as well as a spendthrift, even though growing up I used to save my babysitting money to buy things I wanted that they didn’t want to buy (i.e. clothes or shoes). I also think they might be surprised as well by how organized I am, and how I set goals and achieve them. My dad especially loved to say  that I never stuck with anything (although I did) – what he didn’t see was that I knew when to bail out of something that wasn’t working or never would. I know both my parents would be very proud of how Brett and I have raised our children. My Mom told me toward the end of her life that one of her greatest joys was meeting our girls and getting to know them, that we had done a great job raising them (all three girls joined our family after my dad had died). No one on either side of my family had ever adopted before, and my parents unfortunately had all sorts of preconceived beliefs about how adoption just never worked out.

That’s a wrap for this week at Casa Aloha. How was your week? What good things happened for you?

Five Frugal Things 3/10/2017

Brett had the affordable and tasty “hippie bagel” (hummus, tomatoes, cucumber and sprouts) for lunch at Little Fish Coffee in Hanapepe.

It’s been another week filled with good, frugal choices:

  1. We went to Big Save this past week to buy yogurt, a dozen eggs and hamburger rolls, and that’s all we bought.
  2. YaYu’s track meet went until after 9:00 p.m. yesterday evening. Brett took water, coffee, fruit and other snacks from home so that they weren’t tempted to spend anything at the meet. They ate leftovers when they got home.
  3. Brett and I wanted to have lunch at Japanese Grandmother’s Kitchen in Hanapepe while we were there last Friday afternoon, but we checked their prices before we left home and decided instead to have lunch across the street at the more affordable Little Fish Coffee. Brett had a delicious bagel sandwich and I had a wonderful smoothie. Our lunch total was low enough that even after buying two pastries at the Midnight Bear Bakery down the street we still spent less than what we had budgeted.
  4. YaYu raised an additional $90 through fundraising, so her round-trip flight over to Honolulu in April cost less than half of the regular price: $69 versus $159.
  5. Although I love my stylist, the price of a hair cut at the salon increased enough this year that I’ve decided to grow out my short, curly hair to chin length which will mean fewer cuts.

What frugal wins did you have this week?

#Kauai: Hanapepe Old Town

Hanapepe Old Town
Hanapepe Old Town

After being cooped up in our house for a few days because of rain (and a sick daughter), visiting Hanapepe Old Town was a fun way for Brett and I to get out and spend an afternoon last week. We hadn’t been to Hanapepe in a while, and had heard there was a new restaurant we should check out, as well as some new shops.

The historic town of Hanapepe is home to art galleries, gift shops and boutiques, Kauai’s only bookstore, a few restaurants and a wonderful bakery. There was plenty to see and do on this short little stretch of road that forms a gentle curve off the Kaumualii Highway on the south side of the island. The best way to see the town is to park your car as soon as you arrive and walk, which is exactly what Brett and I did.

There’s lots of history in Hanapepe. While many of Kauai’s towns were built and owned by the sugar plantations, Hanapepe was created by entrepreneurial immigrants who had either retired from the plantations or could not adapt to the plantations’ strict working conditions. Most of the stores and shops on the street today are in renovated and refurbished buildings that have been around since the 1920s and 1930s. Many have plaques that tell when the building was erected, and what the original business was. For example, the Talk Story bookstore once was the home of the Yoshiura Store, which carried food and clothing, and carried often hard-to-find goods from Japan. We discovered other buildings that held a grocery store, a hardware store, and a bakery (a whole pie from the bakery was just 10¢ back in the 1930s!).

These days, every Friday evening Hanapepe hosts an Art Night, with sixteen galleries open to the public. Visitors are encouraged to meet and chat with the artists, and can enjoy local food and live music. There were several galleries open the day Brett and I visited, with a wide variety of genres for sale including oil paintings, photography, sculpture and even painted and lacquered surfboards.

One interesting piece of trivia about Hanapepe town is that it was the inspiration for Kokaua town, the fictional village in Disney’s animated film, Lilo & Stitch.

No visit to Hanapepe Old Town is complete without a walk across its swinging bridge. The bridge was originally built in the early 1900s as a way for people to get across the Hanapepe Stream to get into town. It was restored following Hurricane Iniki in 1992, and still rocks and sways as you walk over it. There is an art gallery on the far side of the stream once you cross the bridge, but the area is primarily residential and visitors are asked not to go any further than the gallery.

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Outside of the historic old town, Hanapepe is also home to Lapperts Ice Cream, Anahola Granola, the Kauai Kookie Company, and Salty Wahine – all have retail outlets out on the main highway, or at the end of the old road, before you enter back on to the highway. The Salt Pond Beach Park is also in Hanapepe, offering a protected swim pond and views of Niihau (the “forbidden island” – it’s entirely owned by the Robinson family, and visitors are not allowed).

This Week’s Menu: Slim Pickings

Hiyashi chuka usually is made with ham, but I’m substituting shredded chicken this week

I cannot get over how empty our refrigerator is already. It’s actually kind of depressing because when I open the door all I see are a big pitcher of water, a few eggs, a little bit of cheese, a small amount of salami, and a whole lot of condiments. That’s pretty much it. YaYu has been wandering around wondering what there is to eat, although I did bake a chocolate cake yesterday so there would be something for her and Brett to snack on.

Thankfully there is plenty to eat in the freezer, and combined with some produce from the farmers’ market we should make it through until we leave next week. We will have to stop by the store this week for some more yogurt, a dozen eggs, and some hamburger rolls that I thought we had but don’t, but otherwise everything is on track to have the refrigerator officially cleaned out the evening before we leave.

The noodles with pork sauce we’re having on Friday is really just Snake Alley Noodles without the shrimp. YaYu doesn’t care for shrimp, but otherwise loves the recipe so I said I’d make it and call it something else. When her sisters are home though she’s going to have to pick the shrimp out once again.

  • Tuesday (this evening): Teriyaki chicken meatballs; zaru soba; sautéed bok choy (no soba for me – sob!)
  • Wednesday: Three-color salad with chicken (hiyashi chuka) – just chicken, egg, tomato and cucumber for me
  • Thursday: Barbecue pulled pork sandwiches; cole slaw (no bread for me)
  • Friday: Noodles with pork sauce; sautéed bok choy; fruit (no noodles for me)
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday: Baked chili rellenos with enchilada sauce; yellow rice (no rice for me)
  • Monday: Homemade fish cake sandwiches; cucumber and tomato salad (no bread for me)

We’ll be doing a minimal amount of shopping this week at the farmers’ market, just picking up some cabbage, bok choy, lettuce, papayas and bananas, all things we can finish before we leave on our journey.