Sunday, March 13, 2011

New Aeon Mall Kofu-Showa

DVC00001For the longest time I’ve complained about my area not having very many places to shop and eat non-Japanese foods well now I prayers have been answered. A large, new shopping mall was just opened just a few streets down from where I live.
Subway counter.The Aeon Kofu-Showa mall has a lot of firsts for Yamanashi-Prefecture. First of all it has a SUBWAY SANDWICH RESTAURANT. I am a huge Subway fan so news of it being there made me giddy as a schoolboy. The mall also has a pretty decent food court and restaurant area. Another notable American fast food establishment is the Sbarro Pizza at the 3rd floor food court. Now I can eat American style pizza without any of that damn corn or mayonnaise that the Japanese love to throw onto everything I hold holy.
YESSSSSSSSS! Now if we only got a Dominos up in this area I'd be set.
The real downer is that Japan Subway is 25% more expenisve and they are stingy with toppings.
As for shopping there’s also an Aeon grocery store which is pretty big and has a lot of cheap, affordable produce and other goods. The Aeon Mall also sells all kinds of imported beers and liquor. Stuff I couldn’t get without shopping online or happening to find some at an overpriced bar.
Finally a non Japanese beer that is AFFORDABLE.
Now I can get Samuel Adams, Heineken, and other beers I like at my own leisure. It sure beats the bland cookie-cutter 3 main beer flavor Japanese beers I’ve had to endure over the past 4 years. I used to really like Japanese beer when it was a luxury item back in the US, now its like Budweiser to me. Especially Asahi Super Dry. I am an Ebisu/Sapporo man but most restaurants and stores most commonly carry Asahi. Boo.
Variety is the spice of life.
For clothes and other merchandise, it is a wonderland for Yuko. It is also a godsend for me as I don’t need to drive out a couple of hours west just to get to a proper mall for Yuko to shop at. There are a couple of clothes stores I can shop at too. They have a Gap and a GU which both carry my size and at affordable prices.
Yes! Finally a clothes store that I care about!
All in all I am very happy this mall was opened. I wish it was opened a year earlier. The whole tsunami and nuclear disaster really soured the opening. The mall literally opened a day before the disaster struck. For the first month or so the mall had odd operating hours because of the disaster. Now that things are back to normal as of June, when this entry was written, the mall seems to be operating at full capacity minus some of the lights and climate control systems that are off for conservation purposes.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Big earthquake and tsunami

I’ve lived through quite a few earthquakes in my lifetime while living in California and Japan but I’ve never felt something so strong as the one I experienced on the 11th of March 2011. This post is written nearly 3 months after the disaster but I will keep the spirit of the post in the moment of the disaster. I will have a later post illustrating how I feel about things now and how things are 3 months later.
I had just got home and sat down on my sofa after a light day at work with couple hour early release due to some event that was being held at the school that day. At first I thought I was a little dizzy because I had gotten poor sleep the night before and felt really groggy the whole day. But when things really started shaking I calmly walked over to the doorway in the kitchen and braced myself in the doorway. As my whole apartment building was shaking I could see every thing swaying as if a giant had grabbed my apartment and started to rock it about as if it were a toy car.
The fish tank sloshed about and finally spilled about 10% of its contents onto the kitchen floor but nothing else broke or fell because of how well I decorated the apartment. We don’t have many things up high that can fall thank goodness. After the earthquake I just thought it was going to be like any other and we’d just see broken glass and a few toppled old buildings like the many other times I’ve experienced quakes in Japan. But as you all know this time was very different.
Then a few minutes later another, equally strong, rolling quake went through my apartment again. At this point the power cut out and I figured it was time to get out as the apartment really swayed hard this time around. Minding my surroundings and power lines, I carefully hopped in my car and plugged my cell phone into the car charger so I could watch TV on it. After seeing the news reports of the tsunami coming I knew that we were in for something really bad.
I decided to move my car to a safer, open, power-line free area. There just so happens to be a large open park a minute’s drive from my apartment. So I parked my car at the park’s parking lot and watched in disbelief as the news showed footage of the ocean pouring over towns up north on the coast.
After a couple of hours of sitting in my car I decided I would go to Yuko’s parent’s house since they still had all their utilities up. My area was blacked out till mid-night. Little did I know those blackouts would last for many more weeks to come. We didn’t even know about what had happened at Fukushima till a few days later and even then it was really played down. But we all know what’s happened since then.
So that’s my experience with the March 11 2011 earthquake. I am very happy and fortunate that all my friends and family in Japan were and are still safe. I hope I never have to experience such a large scale disaster ever again.