Sunday, July 26, 2009

The water is on!

So an update to what has been going on.

My in laws went out at 10 pm Saturday to buy us water. They had to go to a few stores because lots of places were sold out. Finally they brought us 12 2liter bottles. They offered their place for me to take a bath etc but at that time we declined. So...I heated water on the stove and put the water in a big bucket and hubby had a "bath" or at least washed himself by scooping water over himself. Then I did the same and by the time we did that and washed dishes (it is hot and humid so leaving dirty dishes was not an option) and flushed the toilet once, we were close to being out.

Hubby decided he couldn't wait until 10 am (when his father was going to pick him up to take him to get water from the army)because he really wanted to have water to flush the toilet so at 2am hubby decides to go out and buy water. We have a 7-11 about 2 minutes from our house but they were sold out. So, he walked to the next convenience store...they were sold out. So...he went to the next one ultimately walking about 20 minutes. At 2 am. Without phoning me to tell me what he was doing. I was getting nervous. About 45 minutes later I hear this banging on the door and there is my hubby cradling (like a baby) a bag filled with 6 2 liter bottles of water. It weighed a ton! And apparently he originally had 2 bags with 3 bottles in each but the bags burst open as he was walking home (Seriously....imagine at 2:30 am seeing some guy with many bottles of water breaking free from the bags on the road!) so he asked the 7-11 guys for a bag even though he bought them from a different store.

Anyway, we woke up and finally there was water. It was really brown at first but eventually the city cleaned the pipes and all is now ok.

But just now we were watching the news and the pictures are just awful. So many people lost their homes and many lost their lives in the surrounding areas. In the 11 years I have lived here, I have never seen this and it is still raining on and off.Hopefully it will end soon.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Water water everywhere...but not in the pipes!

So, I was cooking dinner and I put a pot in the sink and turned on the tap....nothing....not even a drop. Weird! I went down to the office and tried the water...nothing. Ok....our water bill isn't late so what is the deal? Turns out because of the rain, a pipe has burst (at least that is what we have been told) and they have turned off the water to my area. We found out by calling city hall at 9:30 pm only to be told that we had to go to a community center (not even close to where we live) to get water from the army...oh and we need some big container to hold the water and oh stops at 10pm. We don't have a car. We don't have a big plastic container. We have no water to flush the toilets, wash ourselves etc. We called hubby's parents who live in the same city but they have water so they are going to go shopping and get some containers and fill them up themselves and bring them to us tonight. I guess tomorrow they will take hubby to the community center to get water. Thank God for my in laws!!

The other problem is that apparently my work is in the no water zone so if the water isn't on by Monday I don't know what we will do. I don't need water to teach English but I will need to pee more than once in 6.5 hours of work. Our students also use the toilets so .....this could be interesting.

I am trying to keep it in perspective as this is our only problem throughout all this rain and the storms.Others have lost their lives, their homes etc.

Oh and just as I put pots and bowls outside to catch the rainwater, it stopped raining!!! Hopefully that means they can fix the pipe!

Friday, July 24, 2009

And to think that I left my umbrella at home!!

Hubby and I went out to run some, post office etc. I left my umbrella at home because it looked like it was clearing up. We went to the bank....we were dry. We went to the post office...we were dry. We walked to the mall and decided to stop in at the Softbank store and I got a new cell phone (will blog about my cool new phone later). While we were going through the very long process of getting this phone all hell broke loose outside. It started to rain. Not just was more like a mini typhoon. I mean the sound of the rain on the roof was so loud. It was raining so hard it was just "white" outside and the rain was coming down so hard it was going back up after hitting the road. I though maybe it would be just "rain" and not a mini typhoon by the time we were ready to go....yeah right! Even if the rain had been just a normal light rain, we still would have had to wade through the water on the street. We choose the best way to go from the phone store to the mall and we still were in water half way up our calves at one point!

I had a mini umbrella that kept my hair from getting soaked but hubby had nothing so he was drenched. I wish I could have gotten pictures of people's faces when they saw us walk into the mall!! They probably had no idea how bad it was outside! Well...just to show you how bad it has are some pics.
Not sure you can see it but the road is under water.

Sadly, mud slides are a big problem.

This is downtown Fukuoka city (imagine Toronto under water!)

These next pics aren't great but they give you an idea of how bad it has been....the water is coming up from below!

Oh and it is still raining!!!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Side Of Japan Almost Never Seen

Japan: A Story of love and hate.

I came across this documentary and thought it was amazing. It is in 6 parts and each part is about 10 minutes- it is truly fascinating. I think a lot of people have a certain image of Japan but this will make you think twice. Just a warning...there is some swearing in it but if you can get past this I think you will enjoy it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Double Rainbows, Eels And Amazing Coffee!

It has been while since I posted because lots has been going on. I've been getting ready for our trip to Canada which is in less than 3 weeks now! Anyway, I thought I would share these with you.

The other day it was really raining hard and then it stopped for a bit and got strangely bright out one window so I looked and saw this rainbow. I did a double take because I realized there were 2. They started out a bit light but then in a matter of minutes they were so colorful and bright. I had never seen anything like it! Even my boss wanted to take a picture so we opened up a window in another room to get a better shot. It was such a big thing that the next day I had students talking about it! (can you tell I live in a small town?!)

Unagi!! It is summer and therefore time for eels!!! This of course means that the supermarket must have some decorations. In the 2nd picture you can see the plastic eel hanging from the ceiling. Even my hubby got a bit excited about this and took his time picking out his dinner and there were numerous bento combinations involving eel.
Speaking of the supermarket, I went to "Youme town" (no it is not pronounced "you" "me" but rather "you" "may" town which means "dream town"). They have taken the disinfecting thing to a new level. Not only can you disinfect your hands when you enter the mall, but in the same place where you get your cart for the supermarket they now have disinfectant towelettes and they had the ever important picture showing how to use one! Oh and yes, that is a TV next to the towelettes...they have them in the supermarkets here (do they do that back in Canada or the States?) blaring music and infomercials about different things. Every time I go to this supermarket, I end up leaving there with the "I like meat" song stuck in my head!!

Amazing Coffee!!!

At the supermarket the other day I was looking for some coffee...something different and flavored (hard to come by here) but then I saw this one that said "caramel salt and butter" and I, sounds interesting. So I bought one and tried it. OH. MY. GOD!!!!! If heaven could be liquified and put in a cup this is what it tastes like. It is creamy, sweet but ever so slightly salty and buttery caramel and ....I gotta stop because now I want one and the supermarket is closed.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

More info on eating gluten free in Japan

I wrote this blog entry about going gluten free in Japan and I have received several emails with questions from people living in Japan so I thought I would give more info. Please remember that I'm not a doctor-I'm only passing on info that I have learned while living here.

First I've been asked to give the Japanese for certain words for those who can't read Japanese.

soy sauce (Kanji) 醤油 (しょう油)
soy sauce (hiragana) しょうゆ

In English, those who need to avoid gluten need to avoid wheat, barley, rye, oats (though there is debate about this one) but in Japanese they all use the same Kanji (for wheat).

What I've learned here is that you need to avoid ALL soy sauce in Japan-ALL soy sauce contains wheat in Japan. And MOST sauces in Japan, contain soy sauce-I have even found it in Italian salad dressings or soy sauce powder in lots of pre made powders (like the steak spice package that comes with many steaks), sauces etc. So...buying anything in a sauce is risky.

For those new to eating gluten free here veggies, meat, seafood, fruits, nuts (plain), dairy, tofu etc are safe....most other things are risky (even senbei has soy sauce). ALWAYS READ THE INGREDIENTS and even then, know that there will be times when you will eat some.! Shopping for gluten free food is easy thanks to a few online shops in Japan...easy but not cheap.

For wheat free tamari (like soy sauce) I buy it from

I also buy brown rice flour for when I make gluten free butter tart squares.

Most of the gluten free foods I buy from . This online store has 2 food that has food already in Japan and can be delivered to your house in 5-7 days (called "the deli") and the other store- you order your food and it is delivered from the U.S in about 1 month (this is called "the general store") . Most of the gluten free food I order comes from the "general store" and therefore takes a month but it is worth it. When you enter the "general store" you can search for "gluten free" , "wheat free" or even "rice"(for rice pasta etc). I highly recommend the following:

Tinkyada pasta-this is the BEST brown rice pasta...people who need to eat rice pasta can't tell the difference!

Arrowhead mills brownie mix.

Enviro Kidz cereal

Bob's Red mills pancake mix

FBC also offers many other gluten free products.

Other online options (a sister site to has a shipping service. With this service you can order from American companies and have them ship to fbcexpress who will then ship them to you. I use this service a lot. For example... offers many gluten free products in bulk size so if you know what you like, you can have ship them to fbcexpress and then they will ship them to you. It is explained here

I have also had food delivered from Canada They have THE BEST breads and other treats. I had them ship to fbcexpress and then they delivered to me. I would only do this in the winter. They do use a vacuum pack system for this type of mailing but I wouldn't risk it in the summer. Of course, ordering bread you would need a big freezer to keep it all in once you get it.

Supermarkets in Japan

Katakuriko (potato starch) is a great substitute for flour for coating chicken etc. Also almond flour/meal/powder (this can be found in the supermarket but it buying from bob's red mills and having it delivered via fbcexpress is cheaper if you use it a lot).

Pasta substitutes are "harusame" (green bean thread) and "bifun"which are Chinese noodles made from rice. Many supermarkets also have Vietnamese rice paper for "wraps".

Crackers-many senbei have soy sauce so read the ingredients. I love "happy turn" and there are some plain thin rice crackers which are ok but frankly I don't eat them because I love "happy turn" so much!

Eating out
As I stated in my other blog post, eating out is difficult. I always carry a plastic bottle filled with my gluten free soy sauce. The 2 easiest things to eat out are sushi and yakiniku. Sushi is the easiest....order only sushi that doesn't have a sauce (avoid eel which almost always has a brown sauce) and just use your own soy sauce. Yakiniku is a bit tricky at first. You have to explain to the waitress not to put any sauce on the meat before they bring it to the table. You also need to make your own sauce. What I do is ask for garlic paste (niniku), red pepper flakes (tougarashi) and a small dish. I then put some soy sauce in the dish, add some garlic, red pepper and water from my cup to make a sauce. I LOVE it. And,if you are a regular at a yakiniku place they will get used to it. If a place gives you a hassle and asks why you don't want sauce etc just tell them (if you don't mind a little lie) " moshi shoyu ga tabemono ni haite itara zensouku ga demas" (if I eat something with soy sauce, I will have an asthma attack). This was actually true for me for many years and no matter how I tried to explain they would hassle me until I told them this so this is what I say even now if I am hassled. You can also substitute "shoyu" for "komugi" (means wheat) and tell them you will have an asthma attack if you eat anything with wheat.

I have also learned that most Japanese don't know much about food allergies in general but wheat allergies in particular are a new thing so asking a waiter if there is something in the food doesn't mean you will get the right answer. Most Japanese don't know that there is wheat in soy sauce so just be warned.

I'm sure that I'm forgetting something I wanted to mention. If you have any questions, please ask!

UPDATE-  November 9th 2010 - I just updated some dead links.


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