Fourteen days in Japan
After living together for a few years in a small town not too far from New York City, Yasuko and I had planned to get married on October 4th, 2008. Thus, in March of that year, we traveled to Japan for a couple of weeks to visit her parents, to give them the opportunity to get to know me before we took such an important step together.
Visiting Japan had been a dream of mine, but never I would have imagined that my first trip there would have been with my future wife!
During the fourteen days we were in Japan, we spent as much time as possible with her family, and they treated us to some of the best Japanese restaurants. We also took the opportunity to take a couple of getaways to visit some of the most beautiful places around Nagoya, her home town.
This is the story of those exciting two weeks.
Day 1: Dinner with family
Sunday, March 16th, 2008
We arrived in Nagoya in the late afternoon, quite exhausted after a 14-hour flight from New York to Tokyo and a connecting flight to Nagoya. Yasuko's parents welcomed us at the airport, and we went all together to the apartment we had rented. Having dropped all of our stuff, we then all went to have dinner, together with Jutaro, Yasuko's brother, and his wife Rie.
Despite the fact that I had already seen all of them many times via Skype, it was the very first time for me to meet Yasuko's family. And for them it was the first time to meet Yasuko since her departure from Japan two years earlier, in the Summer of 2006.
The dinner was simply amazing, especially for me and Yasuko. For her, it had been almost two years since her last meal in Japan. For me, it was my first opportunity to taste sashimi the way it is supposed to be. We also had some of the best tempura I had ever eaten.
We had Japanese food before in New York at various restaurants, both in Long Island and in Manhattan, but, from this first dinner it was already very clear, even to my untrained palate, that nothing in the US tasted even close to the way Japanese food tasted in Japan.
After dinner, we went to grab some sweets and a cup of coffee at the local Komeda. My very first time at a Komeda's coffee shop, the largest coffee shop chain in the Tokai region. Of 413 shops in Japan, Aichi prefecture is home to 263 of them, so you absolutely can’t miss them if you visit the city of Nagoya.
The interesting thing about the chain is that it keeps true to the traditions of being a coffee shop rather than a cafe, if you can understand what I mean by this. When you enter there is an older, rather deeper atmosphere – the old timers sitting and smoking, the coffee tickets, the pine wooden decor, the magazine rack for those wanting to read in peace – all make it feel less cafe like. There are less younger groups, no window-facing high counter seating, and you are served at the table as opposed to standing and queuing up.