Yukkuri Countdown JAPAN
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
 Hard Work and Rewards

My base school is considered a high level school in the prefecture and 500 junior high students came this morning for its first day of entrance exams. After a five-subject written test including English, Math, Science, Japanese and I believe Social Studies, there were 10 minute interviews with two teachers to a student. By the end of today 80 would already be chosen. The other 240 would be decided after a second day of exams.

Basically this means a busy day for all the teachers. During the first half of the day they conduct all the examinations and then they must grade like crazy! Not only is the cafeteria closed like on other days when the Ss leave early, the teachers order special bento, or box lunches, for themselves. For me it was a surprise treat since I hadn't known about the order but received an extra! These were 1500yen!

literally a box lunch
It seemed like the teachers didn't have time to enjoy their nice bento. As they all flowed to the library for grading I stayed in the staff room grading those paragraphs, so I had plenty of time to taste each part. Everyone also received bottled green tea (in the picture) and a bag of desserts (pictures below).

Here's a DETAILED description of each part, in the order I tried them:
1. shumai: Yummy!
2. rice: Pressed into pellet-shapes! Black sesames and a small ume on top
3. konnyaku (niimono): Tasteless, like konnyaku.
4. salmon: Really dry but I liked it, not a strong taste. A few bones. It took awhile to realize what the lemon was for but it turned out very yummy, added moisture. The tartness also brought out saltiness.
5. katsu: Dark thin pork meat. Chewy, dry but the oil was held in by the batter. Of course it was better with the tart and slightly fruity katsu sauce!
6. green peas (niimono): Good, though couldn't taste niimono flavor.
7. eggplant (niimono): Deep shoyu flavor with slight sweetness. Clean, juicy and refreshing. It didn't taste like plain ordinary niimono.
8. kamaboko: Good kamaboko.
9. soft bamboo, green pepper, carrots, white fish ankake: Yummy vegetables, light flavored sauce, fish not fishy at all, easy to eat! At first the sauce tasted sweet, then sweet and sour with a hint of lemon.
10. chicken: Tasteless, didn't even taste like chicken.
11. dried tofu around fishcake (niimono): Like a dry sponge soaked in something briny with an underlying woody smell/taste, yuck! Plus the fishcake was very pasty.
12. carrot (niimono): Good old niimono carrot. Soft, clean, sweet.
13. fried egg: Yum. Bits of carrot and mushroom. Chirashi flavor (rice vinegar and sugar?)
14. shrimp: I didn't know how to eat it! Creepy legs. Tried a little bit where I managed to break it open. Very sweet and chewy
15. uguisu beans: Soft and sweet but not as a sweet as azuki beans. (what kind of beans are uguisu beans?)
16. pickles: Green ones were crunchy, salty, sour and herby. Pink ones were salty with a hint of fruitiness (ume)
17. orange slice: Oranges really do taste different from mikan! It's been awhile since I had an orange.

When I finished and picked up the box lid I realized there had been chopsticks included! I should've known. After removing them from the box lid to use at a e, later time, I finally added my finished bento box to the stack.

bag of desserts

fu-rusekku(?), baton fromage, hard candy, madeleine, chocolates
The baked goodies in this picture are made from only simple ingredients like butter, sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla.

baton fromage
I expected these to be cookies when I opened the package but one bite and boom, it was sharp cheese! These reminded me of the imitation Cheezits we made in Home Living class in seventh grade. I wish I had more of these. See the pretty flaky layers?

chocolate covered hazelnuts
These yummy milk chocolates each contained a refreshingly crunchy hazelnut. I didn't know they were hazelnuts at the time; I was thinking they might be ginkgo seeds because I'd recently read fish fish's memorable post mentioning ginkgo seeds being popular in Japan. To inspect the peanut-like filling in its entirety I melted off the chocolate in my mouth to find a garbanzo bean-shaped (sugar roasted?) nut. To me it tasted quite like a peanut but without the oiliness. Yummy! If you're wondering how I figured it out, to realize they were hazelnuts I had to eat the free sample Ferrero Rocher I got at the Sony Plaza store that is selling tons of Valentine's Day chocolates in the station!
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Seize the food, for Japan is time-service only! In other words, this blog is to preserve, share, and make the most of my six months left living in Japan. Yes, I am obsessed with food. Cheap food!

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Location: Tokyo/Saitama, Japan

Life is short so I eat fast, lest it get cold or disappear. I'm currently teaching English in Japan for two years. I was born and raised in California, and will be returning there in Summer 2005. I was ovo-lacto-vegetarian for about seven years but decided to let it go during second year in Japan!

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Left pocket's Bulgogi
Fumiyo's Cafeteria Tour
Japanese vs. Western
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