A Rude Awakening

Just like that, I’m back in Maryland. Ok, so it’s been two and a half weeks since we left Tanegashima, but we’ve been in almost constant motion since, and it feels like so much happened so quickly. And so passively, if that makes any sense (I know it doesn’t). But its like all I did was start putting my things in bags, and before I knew it I was hugging everyone goodbye and getting on a plane and driving across the country. Cody and I spent ten days in Tokyo before flying to Texas, which was its own kind of twilight zone (and we got sick and lost a few days so that didn’t help). In Texas I got to reunite with my darling pup and hear my sisters’ high school choir sing and eat awesome Texas food.

But now all of a sudden I’m back, with wickedly persistent jet lag. And while the mild dusting of snow we got yesterday and the smell of my favorite American shampoo have made me really happy to be home, I feel like Tanegashima was some kind of dream. Like I tripped in a field of poppies (i haz puns) and I’m just now being dragged out by a pile of dirty laundry and adulty obligations.

tanegashima beach

Did I actually spend a quarter of a year here?

tanegashima forest

It’s just too weird.

yakushima forest

sandalwood dinner in tanegashima

tanegashima and tanuki

These were familiar sights three weeks ago.

tanegashima field

Food comas.

dinner at home in tanegashima

Glimpses of lives.

papa san sashimi

tanegashima farm

Unreal food.

big shrimp in tanegashima

tanegashima shore

And this? I’m not sure it really happened either (sometimes I think it shouldn’t have… (fast forward to the 1:20 mark, unless you like watching people sit around awkwardly)).

Three months is a long time to be away from reality. And unpacking from a trip that huge is like setting off a clothes bomb. I still don’t know where my nail clippers are. I’m having fun getting back into cooking (oh how I’ve missed it), but I’m not even close to finished with blogging about Japan, so expect a mix of things in the future. I’m ready to shake off the sand and get back to daily such and such, but that was one heck of a dream.

  1. Omg. You are back. Imma respect your desire to decompress but please expect to be physically accosted by a reunion in the near future. Plus your voice sounded like buttah in that video. BUTTAH!

    Caitlin — March 26, 2014
    1. You're far too kind. I can't wait to invade your personal space. Not a euphemism.

      courtney — March 26, 2014
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  2. We are glad you are back and oh, so glad you got to go! I know it will be hard to readjust... you may just develop a permanent wanderlust. But we are glad that you are home for a while!

    Amy — March 30, 2014
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Italian in Japan

I am embarrassed that I still haven’t finished posting about Yakushima (monkey island). But I have lots and lots more pretty pictures from our adventures, so I’ll be catching up for a while.

I mentioned in my birthmas post that I had pizza for dinner on Christmas. Well, this was the place: Il Mare.

crab risotto at Il Mare

For my birthday dinner, we got to start with a fantastic crab and tomato risotto, made with these crabs that are local to the Tanegashima and Yakushima area. I can’t remember what they are called, but they look really weird and taste really good.

drinks at Il Mare

That’s the chef/owner, Ohya-san, making our pizzas. He serves really good, really fresh tasting blood orange juice and mango juice, (which go surprisingly well with dinner) and his menu has rotating specials based on what’s in season.

pizza toss

The toss.

pizza at Il Mare

Our favorites were the bacon and garlic pizza and the four cheese pizza. This is probably the only place in a hundred mile radius that cooks with blue cheese. We peeked in the kitchen while they were cooking and saw a nice, big wheel of blue being crumbled for the four cheese pizzas. The bacon is house made too, which is really impressive even by Italian or hipster American standards.

pizza at Il Mare

There’s my very cheesy four-cheeser with a lovely charred rim. I didn’t get a good photo, but Ohya-san makes beautifully crusty bread, as well as his perfectly chewy and crispy pizza dough, from scratch. His was easily the best pizza and bread I’ve had in Japan, and even better than a lot of the places I eat pizza and buy bread in the US. We asked Ohya-san if he traveled to Italy to learn to make pizza and bread like that, but he said “No, I just study and practice a lot”. He had me fooled.

Il Mare sign

I know Yakushima is far away for most of the people reading, but if you ever find yourself there, make sure to visit Ohya-san at Il Mare. He’s built a gorgeous restaurant with house-made everything on hard work and passion, and I can’t overstate the level of respect I have for what he’s made. Also, it’s just ridiculously delicious. Go.

  1. How cool! That food looks scrumptious! :) xo TJ http://www.hislittlelady.com

    TJ — March 7, 2014
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Citrus Season

Japanese citrus

This winter was my first time living somewhere that is warm enough to grow citrus. Yet another reason I don’t want to leave Tanegashima. Mikan (satsuma oranges), Ponkan (Chinese honey tangerines), and Kinkan (kumquats) are the main players on this island, and they grow so abundantly that people have to give them away if they don’t want them going to waste. NASA people (some of whom would live on instant ramen and chips if they could) have been able to avoid scurvy thanks to the generosity of the restaurant, hotel, and store owners who can’t seem to give their oranges away fast enough.

Cody and I are trying to process the idea that we’re leaving this island, maybe forever, in three days. But it will not compute. Still, we’re loading up on souvenirs and eating at all of our favorite places one last time, proceeding as planned. Here’s hoping I can hold it together when I say goodbye to all the Sun Pearl people and my Tanegashima friends. Reality awaits.

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