Saturday, February 15, 2020

Valentine's Day

The tradition for Valentine's day in Japan is that women gift men; then the men reciprocate a month later on "White day". That's twice the business opportunity for retailers I guess.

This year Ritsuko decided we're eating more than enough chocolate already (she's right). I don't really drink any longer so beer or whisky is out. Instead she got me this:



Three speciality coffees from a local roaster in Naha. Emerald Mountain from Colombia; Ethiopian Alaka — I've been into Ethiopian coffees lately; and Costa Rica Honey.

Emerald Mountain is a high grade coffee from Colombia and apparently limited to the Japanese market under an exclusivity agreement. Ethiopian coffees tend to be light and fruity or chocolatery with a lot of floral tones; we'll see what this one is like. Costa Rica "Honey" apparently refers to a processing method where the beans are dried with the fruit only partially removed. This will be interesting to try!

All three come from Churamame coffee in Naha. It's a good, very reasonably priced coffee roaster and shop; we often buy our coffee there.


Ah, coffee! This is Emerald Mountain (not that you could tell). Light bitterness, with balanced flavour and spicy tones. Very agreeable. I'd say it's a great morning coffee if it didn't cost so much...

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Kadena

It was time to renew my residence card, and to do that I had to visit immigration. In Osaka this would involve getting there before opening time, stand in line, then wait for perhaps hours before they finish your request.

Knowing this I went to Kadena immigration office (it's on my way to work) well before 9 am with the form already filled in. When I get there there's not a single person waiting. The doors open right at 09:00; I'm still alone so I step right up and give them the form, my old card, my passport and a picture.


Kadena town. It's not big - about 12000 people - but it feels neat and homey, even cozy. It's really too bad about the air base. Of course they can't choose their neighbours, and a military air base can't really help but being noisy and potentially dangerous either.

As I sit down and wait a couple of young American women arrive. They apparently want to change from SOFA status (that's what US military and dependents are in Japan) to a tourist visa - I guess their time in Japan was ending and they want to take some time off with sightseeing before returning to the US.

However, they don't speak Japanese, and they are under the mistaken assumption that if you SPEAK ... SLOWLY ... AND ... LOUDLY and drop all grammar this will somehow make them easier to understand. They spent several minutes half-shouting "SOFA ... NO. GO ... SEE ... VISA ... YES." to the increasingly confused immigration officer (who, by the way, likely understood English just fine). I would honestly not have understood what they wanted either if I hadn't overheard their conversation as they were walking in.


Still a fair amount of older buildings around. With the Pacific Ocean just around the corner, it's really a losing battle to try to keep buildings looking fresh. If bits are not falling off your house you're still winning.

I would have followed this exciting drama to its undoubtedly thrilling conclusion, but at exactly 09:09 the clerk calls me up to give me my passport and my new residence card. I was literally out the door in ten minutes, new card in hand. In Osaka I would still be waiting in line outside the office for the number ticket machine (so I could wait to submit my documents).

My opinion of Kadena has really improved a lot after this. Not enough to live there or anything (you have to really like aircraft noise at all hours for that), but still. I know where I'll go when I need to renew my card again in 2027.


This is how great it felt when I walked out, residence card in hand. The great thing with Okinawan weather is that there's such a lot of it. Including frequent rainbows.