July 15, 2010

Exploring Around Zama

We didn't waste any time our first day in Japan. While Mike was in-processing at Zama I took the kids and walked outside of the base to explore the "real" Japan. I had no idea where I was and where we were going but I figured if we just kept walking we would eventually stumble upon a 7-eleven or other convienient store. Sure enough we found a 7-eleven and the nicely air-conditioned store was welcomed by our sweaty bodies. I remember 7-elevens growing up in Japan. They were one of the cleanest and best little stores. The kids had fun being able to pick out some fun treats. We walked back to Zama with our treats in hand trying to hurry so that we wouldn't have to be out in the humidity any longer than absolutely necessary. On the way home we noticed a few things that were unique:

1. The stop signs were upside down red triangles.
2. The stop lights were horizontal instead of vertical like those found in the US.
3. Everyone was driving on the left side of the road and the steering wheels were on the right side of the car.
4. Every license plate had a hiragana character before the numbers.
5. The streets were so narrow and tiny it was amazing that two lanes could fit on such a small road.

One evening we took the kids and walked down to the Sobudai-mae train station outside of Zama. We walked up and down the small streets and found a cute little grocery store. The produce section was amazing. Many of the fruits and vegetables looked fresh and some of them were even wrapped in bags or other nice wrapping. We all bought ice-cream and continued our walk around the train station area. The interesting thing about Japan is all of the vending machines. You can't walk more than 20 ft without running into some kind of vending machine. Most of them are drink machines. We now enjoy seeing the kinds of drinks we can buy. Our favorite drink so far is called Aquarius. It was one of my favorite drinks growing up. It is kind of like Propel but a little different. This is Andrew's favorite choice where Peter enjoys the Fanta Orange drinks. Emma usually chooses the apple juice. Juice here tastes different. I think I actually like it better. We are frequent stoppers at the drink machines but have warned the children that we will not stop to get drinks all the time. On the way back we stopped to admire the bike parking lot. There are so many bikes around here. It is so funny to see bikes parked everywhere. That is so Japan though.

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