9th October, 2006 - The excitement of meeting up again (after 3 weeks and a discovered pregnancy) had started to abate and we fell into a more normal "holiday-in-Japan" routine. The second day in Japan, we went for a visit to Auntie-S over in Teine (the suburb, not the mountain). Her house is a typical house in Sapporo. Two story, and relatively modern... yet it still retains the Japanese room complete with tatami mats.
I am forever amazed at Google... and their wonderful Street View. Japan, like Australia, has excellent coverage, and I'm always amazed at what I can find. Like the image above of Auntie-S's house. Ok, this is unlikey to have been taken in October (as the beans are well and truly grown). I hope I'm not breaking any rules in making use of the Street View images - but I'd never thought that I'd need to take photos of everything.
Auntie-S loves her garden and religiously grows a lot of her own vegetables. Ok... the mini-tomatoes were definitely mini... but very tasty (oishii). One of the things that I've noticed (in terms of differences with Australia) is that we didn't see as much evidence in Sapporo of the huge DIY businesses (like Bunnings here). I'm not sure if we just weren't looking hard enough, or if it means that there isn't as much DIY in Japan. T-chan's father helps out here putting up the beans frame... lots of bamboo and Otousan's trademark skill with twine.
Just down the road from Aunti-S' house is our favourite Bikkuri Donkey restaurant (thanks again Street View). T-chan and I snuck off to have a lunch together... but once again, T-chan couldn't taste.
Now... when it comes to beef restaurants (especially ones that have been around since 1968), you might have a certain mental image... however you'd most probably be disappointed in Bikkuri Donkey if you weren't in Japan. Beef here often means hamburg... beef hamburger. Actually to be strictly correct it's beef and pork. Typically they range from either 150gm or 300gm... and comes with rice, small radish salad, fries or rice, and a number of different topping varieties (such as cheese, gravy, curry, eggs etc). Each dish is about 600-800yen depending on what you choose - and they even have their own branded Bikkuri Donkey Beer (just watch out for the non-alcoholic beer on the menu).
What's a 100yen shop you ask? Well, they just happen to be one of the true marvels for a tight-tourist-budget that you can find. Yes - everything in the 100 yen shop is... you guessed it... 100 yen (approx $1.20 AUD). Ok - there's a 10% tax on that... but in anyone's language it's damn cheap. What sort of things can that include? Just about anything from food to stationary to cooking ware. You may have the impression that Japan is an expensive place to live... but you could do worse than populate your life with goods from the 100 yen shop. They may not become family heirlooms, but they're generally of reasonable quality - and you can pick up lots of small souvenirs there. Also - we found that we can buy the exact same items back here in Australia for 10-15x the price - so they definitely don't seem cheap per se.
With the change in the economy there's also been a shift to more expensive goods - the arrival of the 1000 yen shop. Better quality, but still relatively good value.
We returned home where I stuck myself in one of the books on Kyoto that I had brought over with me. Preparation for later in our trip - almost a hobby/obsession for me for the past 3 months.