We meant to go to Cup Noodles musuem last time we were here but this was an activity Rob wanted to do so I was trying to wait for him. Anyway, it never happened so we made a point to visit it this time! It’s a super touristy thing to do so we figured, it must be cool so why not?
It only costs 500 yen per person to enter the museum.
They give you a little history lesson on Cup Noodles, which began back in 1958. The museum has an entire room dedicated to showing people all the different packaging and flavors they released over the years. It was actually pretty impressive! There are a lot of multiples of the same thing to fill space but it’s still really cool.
There was also a room devoted to telling the history of Cup Noodles founders but it was all in Japanese so we didn’t spend much time in there. Rob did pose with Momofuku Ando & his wife, the Cup Noodle founders. Chikin Ramen was the original!
For an additional 300 yen per person, you can make your own personalized cup o’ noodles. We almost didn’t do this because it’s extremely popular and the lines was really long but in the end, decided this was half the fun so got in line anyway. It didn’t take all that long to get through the line.
You start by grabbing a ticket and then standing in line. When you reach the front of the line, they give you directions on what to do. They had some printed in English for us to read. After you have read the directions, you are lead to a machine where you insert your yen and it dispenses your empty styrofoam cup. They make you sanitize your hands, give you a lid and find you a seat where you can sit to customize your cup with decorations of your choice. Neither of us have a lot of artistic talent so ours are pretty basic but some of those people were amazing artists!
I think they offer classes where you can actually make the noodles but we opted out of that. I think that’s what those people are doing!
Once you’ve completed your personalized design of your cup, you get in line once more to pick your personalized flavor. All the noodles are obviously the same but you choose your broth and additional ingredients.
After the Cup Noodles museum, we just kinda hung out in the area. The museum is located right across from the waterfront and a famous amusement park. We grabbed a way overpriced beer and wandered around the mall, which had a heavy Hawaiian influence.
So, now we can check that off the list!
Update: it was about a week before I got around to eating my custonized Cup Noodle… it was delicious! I did such a good job. I’m sure they sell the chili tomato ramen back home but I don’t remember seeing it. It’s my new favorite broth, by far!
This trip to Japan is going to be different than the last one. Last time, I was here the entire time, which was definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever been able to do, and we experienced so much. With those experiences went a lot of money, too! We still came home with a nice chunk of change but it could have been a lot more if I hadn’t gone to Toyko so many times. Going into Tokyo is like going into Seattle… you go and by the end of the day, you have no idea how you ended up spending so much money! This trip is far less exciting because I only get to come out for short periods of time, we’re spending so much time apart, we miss our cats & this trip is really about the money. We wouldn’t be putting ourselves through all of this, and Rob wouldn’t come out here on his own, if it wasn’t all about the money! There won’t be as many fun day trips to talk about because the money for those will be in our savings accounts instead. Part of me feels like I’m squandering another opportunity to hang out in Japan but the other part of me is just remembering the end game in all of this.
Also, the novelty of the trains has really worn off since we went back home. Before, I was willing to invest endless hours of my life to those trains to get to Tokyo. I’m still willing to do that to a point but not as often. Many parts of Tokyo can take up to an hour and half and I was all for it before. I’ve done it so many times now that I mostly just find it exhausting. I hate saying that, though, because I love going into Tokyo!! One of these days, I woud like to visit Tokyo on a vacation so we can enjoy all it has to offer without the long train rides.
Anyway, this is where we’re living.
Last time we were in Japan, we stayed at New Hotel Yokosuka, just outside the Honch and near the main gate to the naval base. This time, we are at Hello, Lodge, which is a little bit farther out. It’s still very much in the city but not so much a part of “Little America,” so there was a lot less English writing around us! The nice thing is that we aren’t staying on the street lined with bars and crawling with drunk sailors. There are no “massagi” girls on this side of town so Rob doesn’t get propositioned as he walks down the street so that’s nice. We are surrounded by apartments and more of a business district, being near the elementary school, the post office and city council office. Below are pictures of the streets and apartments around us.
The streets and sidewalks are still clean!
This is us.
While it’s a nicer area, it’s also a more incovenient area. It’ farther for Rob to walk each day to and from work. Not by much but still farther. It’s about a 10 minute walk to get to Alibaba, which isn’t far but isn’t the same as being right across the street! Sometimes I wouldn’t even get dressed before running downstairs and across the street to get an Egyptian sandwich. Not I have to walk several blocks to get one. It’s probably a good 15 or 20 minutes to get to Lotus Indian House but fortunately, Gorkha Palace is right up the street and owned by the same people, so I still have easy access to Indian food! We loved the 7/11 next to our hotel last time; they were right next to us, open 24 hours and had so many options! Now we have to walk farther to get to a less cool 7/11 if we want to shop there. There’s a tiny convenience store across the street from us, Tryangle, but they are a poor man’s version of what we’re used. There’s nothing wrong with it… it’s just less variety and all of the “convenient” stores close around 7pm.
I used to shop at Aeon for groceries but that place closed right before we came home in April, so I switched the market located below the More’s City mall on Blue Street. Now, it’s a little bit more of a walk! All of it is still doable but just not as nearby. We are located right next to the Port of Yokosuka, where the seafood is so fresh, some of it is still alive. They don’t have the same selection as the other stores but they work for seafood, some meats and certain kinds of produce.
We have key cards and it’s kind’ve cool because you can’t get in the building without scanning this key card. I like it because that means no one who doesn’t belong in the building can get inside. There are several locations for Hello, Lodge, but they only have one “front desk” between them. The front desk we refer to ins’t even in our building so it’s nice to have that extra safety measure when entering the hotel.
Don’t worry… if you forget your key card, you have a back up key in your own personal box.
When you come inside, you get on this little elevator that’s only big enough for two or maybe three people. We are only on the second floor, right above the entrance. When you look straigh ahead out the window, you look directly at the parking lot across the street. If you look to the right, you get the really exciting view of the convenient store. However, if you look to the left, you get a view of the Yokouka Port Market and Tokyo Bay. That direction is a little nicer!
Christmas is not really a religious holiday over here but it is celebrated as a time of giving and something to be enjoyed. A lot of the businesses have their decorations up, including our hotel!
You will also notice hand sanitizer as well.
This room is smaller than what we had last time. Before we came over here in January, we were told to expect very small rooms, as this was the norm here. We were pleasantly surprised by the size of our room because we saw some that were much smaller! I wouldn’t say this room is significantly smaller than our other room, but the other room had an open floorplan. This room has walls separating the rooms so each room feels really tiny.
The kitchen counter area is a little smaller. Like last time, there’s only one burner but this time, it’s a gas burner. I’ve never used a gas burner until now. I don’t mind it but I can’t help but think this is a fire waiting to happen, with all the drinking these shipyard employees come over here and do before going back to their rooms. Anyway, they only gave him one of everything; one glass, one fork, one plate, etc., so we made a quick trip to the 100 yen store to fix this! We are happy about the size of the fridge. Previously, we had a mini fridge. This fridge isn’t quite the normal depth of your average fridge but it’s normal height so there’s a decent amount of space.
We sleep on a queen bed at home and we had a queen bed at the New Yo, so the difference with this double bed is very noticeable! Rob really doesn’t like these pillows. The television stand is just low enough that you can’t easily watch TV while you lay in bed, and Rob is not a fan of this either. I kinda get it, though… this room is so small that there isn’t many places for two people to sit comfortably to watch a show.
We have been fortunate concerning our entertainment options this time around. Last trip, our only options were Netflix & Japanese television. Netflix has a million options so this totally sufficed but there were a couple of shows we follow that we couldn’t get the new episodes of (at the time, Game of Thrones & Shameless) because we didn’t have access to Hulu or HBO or anything else along those lines. This time, we have an American VPN so we’ve been able to watch all our normal programming!
We have tiny desk! Our other desk was a huge, wrap around one that served all of our purposed! Here, we have two little tables and a very small desk area. It’s taking a little mmore creativity to make things work here for two people. I don’t know if we were just fortunate to get the bigger room at the New Yo because Rob has a guest or if we simply lucked out.
This time, we have a lot less storage space, which consists of only two closets. At the New Hotel Yokosuka, we had so much storage space we couldn’t even use it all.
Our deck is much smaller than our other one too. This doesn’t impact us too much because neither place provides patio furniture, plus it’s winter, so we aren’t spending much time on the deck anyway.
I think our other bathroom was a little bigger but they’re comparable.
THIS hotel has a washer and dryer IN the room, as opposed to going to a different floor to use the communal washer & dryer. This is nice & convenient! The downside is that the quality of these machines isn’t awesome and you have to run your clothes through the dryer about four times before they’re dry so doing a load of laundry takes forever. Needless to say, Rob is happy I’m here to do laundry for him!
Overall, I think we both prefer the New Hotel Yokosuka to this location of Hello, Lodge. It’s nice to be in a quieter area than before but that’s the only thing we find more appealing about this place. I don’t have any real complaints though. It gets the job done, it’s temporary & it’s paid for!
Rob went to Japan for work on November 12th and will be there through the middle of April. I couldn’t go for the full length of this trip but have some short trips to be excited about. Being without him really just isn’t for me! I miss him all the time and I think Emilia is wondering where he is. I think it may have even caused her a little bit of separation anxiety at first. Anyway, Rob & I spent the next three weeks Skypeing on the weekends, texting as much as we had time for, and he would call me every night after work. For him, that would be around 3:00 pm, Japan time, while for me, it would be around 11:00 pm, the date before. Japan is 16 or 17 hours ahead of us, depending on the time of year. Sometimes he would call me from th future! We would usually only talk on the phone for about haf an hour because I had to go bed, and we would send occasional pictures to one another.
December 5th came around and it was finally time for me to go! I left American soil in the morning and by the time I arrived, it was still the evening of the 5th Pacific time, but in Japan time, it’s already the 6th. It’s like I lose a day.
Don was nice enough to drive me to the airport… again. Traffic wasn’t too bad and I made it the airport by around 9:30 for my 12:30 flight. I was starving and grabbed a quick early lunch of rock fish taco’s at Dungeoness Bay. This place was nice enough, the fish was pretty good but they were a little stingy with the crema sauce and salsa. Plus, I paid almost $17 for street tacos which is kind of a steep price but it’s fine.
I booked an American Airlines flight which turned out to be operated by Japan Airlines, so essentially, I flew on Japan Airlines. I was curious about this because I’d never flown using this airline before but my friend, Ana, told me she’d had her best flying experiences with them.
Each row of seats has one seat fewer than that of other planes, giving each passenger a few more inches of space. This tiny little bit of space was a surprising difference maker! All of the staff was friendly. I was in the middle section of the plane, with an aisle seat, which is perfect for me! I don’t care about window seats at all because I find them uncomfortable and claustrophobic, and I love the aisle seat because I don’t like having to climb over people when I get up. This seat was ideal! I had Irish beef stew and was surprised that I enjoyed it! The potatoes were good but the vegetables were… meh. They offer you so much food in a single sitting… way more than anyone probably needs! It didn’t seem like they came around with the drink cart as often as other airlines, and the entertainment selection wasn’t as impressive. I planned to power through with no sleep, wanted to read on the plane but then I kept getting tired. I ended up watching three movies! Riding on a plane is the only time in my life I can fathom sitting through three movies. I watched The Mule, with Clint Eastwood, which was pretty good. I usually like his movies so I’d wanted to watch this for a while. The movie selection was so poor that I ended up watching Hustlers, with Jennifer Lopez. I’m not a big J. Lo follower and to be honest, I thought the movie looked terrible but went with it for a lack of other options, and I was pleasantly surprised. It based a real article printed in The New York Times about some women doing some illegal things to get ahead and I was totally entertained. The third movie I watched was a horror flick called Ready Or Not, about a crazy family who tries to kill their son’s new bride during a game of Hide & Seek. It’s a cheesy story line but I was gripped!
I like checking those little flight monitors… the ones that will tell you where you’re at on your flight. This time, I found it a little odd that it got dark so quickly outside the plane and then I realized something… I was flying just south of Alaska and Alaska is currently in their stretch of winter where it stays dark 24 hours a day for like two months of the year. I don’t know why but I thought this was really cool to fly through this.
The entire travel experience was smooth but once I arrived at Tokyo Narita, things became a little frustrating for me. Going through customs was a piece of cake but getting out of the baggage claim area and into the lobby proved to be annoying, mostly because when I was trying to get through, the person helping me didn’t speak any English, seemed confused about what I was doing and sent me a different direction. This baffled me because I could see signs behind him that said, “Arrival Lobby.” I have just arrived and the lobby seems like the logical place for me to go! The process was a little bit different for me this time because I wasn’t with Rob, being greeted by government workers who would lead us to where we need to be and transport us to our hotel. I ended up just going to another person’s line and getting through that way to get to the airport lobby. I understand that I was in an international airport in a city like Tokyo, so a crowd should be expected… but it doesn’t make it any less annoying for me after a 10.5 hour flight. All I wanted to do was get to Yokosuka to see Rob but I still had a two hour train ride ahead of me. I was looking for Pasemo kiosks, the kind of transportation passes I’m most familiar with. I know they have them at the airport but I couldn’t find one so I finally just went to the ticket office, found out the next train was leaving in just a few minutes but rather than the normal, overcrowded trains I usually take, this one was reserved seating and more than double the cost. My other option was to wait an hour, take the cheaper but far more crowded train and not be guaranteed, forcing me to have to stand. It was totally worth it to me to pay the $45 and have a peaceful ride with a comfortable seat than to pay $17 or so and ride the other train that wouldn’t even arrive for another hour. Money was no object here! This was by far the most pleasant train riding experience I’ve ever had in Japan and will be doing this same thing when I return to the airport, and will remember this for all other trips to and from the airport.
Normally, the trains just have benches along the sides for people to sit on, and handles for the people standing to hold on to. This train car, however, has nice, comfortable seats. Usually, you’re lucky to get a seat at all because there are so many people on the train and you’re expected to give up your seats for the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women, women with children, etc. None of that here! I had my own seat that no one could take away from me! I think because of the price difference, this train car wasn’t all that full. It was the Tokyo Narita Express… so worth it!
This part of my journey was about an hour and a half, until I reached Yokohama Station, where I had to transfer to one of the regular, overcrowded trains, and yes, I had to stand from Yokohama to Yokosuka. At least I found a pasemo kiosk though!
Next stop: Yokosuka! I was hoping to arrive there between 6 – 7pm, but ended up arriving around 7:45. My plane had actually taken off about 35 minutes late so this pushed all my other travel plans back a little but I made it. When I arrived at Yokosuka-Chuo station, Rob was there to meet me and we were so happy to see each other. While I was on the trains, I was so tired and annoyed that I was having a hard time being excited but when Rob & I met up, none of the rest of it mattered! I wasn’t in a bad mood or frustrated… I was so thrilled to just be able to kiss him hello and hold his hand and have him carry my bag, that my mood completely turned around.
Rob and I went to Japan at the beginning of January 2019, and we stayed there until April for Rob’s work. The original plan was to stay there through May but things changed and we came home about two weeks early. It was truly an amazing experience. After we came home, the we discussed the possibility of making this trip a second time… then we got cats. In spite of that, we decided that Rob would make another extended trip to Japan… without me. Someone has to stay home with our kittens, and I took a leave of absence for the first trip, but there’s no way I would be able to swing that at work again. Rob was hoping to stay for three or four months, but was told he would be there for six months, but now that has been reduced to five months. Five long months.
Rob and I have been together for 10 years and this will be the most time we’ve ever been apart. We were told months ago that he had been selected so you would think we’d have had time to adjust but that totally wasn’t the case. Even though we knew it was coming, it didn’t really sink in for either of us until the weekend before his departure. I kept thinking to myself, “Man, I’m really handling this surprisingly well!”
Monday night rolled around and the clinginess increased. I just wanted to be next to Rob, holding him and kissing him constantly. Then Tuesday morning arrived and we had to get up to go to the airport. Watching Rob say goodbye to our little cats was so hard! Last time they saw us with luggage, we were only in Las Vegas for a few days. I don’t know if they recognize luggage as a sign of upcoming travel but I am certain they have no idea Rob will be gone so long. Poor Emilia is probably wondering what the heck is going on. His goodbyes to the three of them made me tear up a little. Unfortantely, the pictures didn’t come out great and are a little blurry. My phone camera needs time to focus which proves challenging at times when I want to capture a specific moment with energetic cats!
The drive to the airport wasn’t what I would call fun! The traffic heading to SeaTac was heavy, as was the rain. It took significantly longer to reach the airport than it should have. Fortunately, we have ourselves plenty of time to get there but unfortunately, we weren’t able to have the cup of coffee we had planned to have together before he went through security. I am grateful for the few minutes we shared before leaving, chatting as I got ready to take him.
Pulling up to the departure area and realizing I was about to drop him off and say goodbye caused me feel so much anxiety. I couldn’t believe this moment had arrived. I have to give so much credit to military spouses! Rob and I won’t realistically be apart nearly as long as some of them but that didn’t make this any easier on me. In that moment, I really had to fight to hold back the tears.
The traffic at the airport wasn’t bad so I was able to pull up to the Delta drop off fairly easily. We both got out, Rob grabbed his stuff and then we said goodbye. There was a lot of kissing & hugging, and quite a few tears on my part. I’ve never been that girl crying in the airport before this and I didn’t care who saw! It was so hard to walk away from him but eventually, I did.
After I got back into my car, there was a lot more crying.
It was a long drive home, and a long day of off and on tears. I did manage to come home and be a little productive, doing a really deep clean in my kitchen so that was sorta distracting. We spent his airport hours and that flight texting each other pretty much constantly. He could not get back to me fast enough!! I was so relieved when he finally landed in Tokyo, because the thought of him on a plane without me bothered me very much.
I will be visiting Rob in Japan next month and I can’t wait. I can’t wait to see him, I can’t wait to be back in Japan and I can’t wait for that time off from work! Rob is really looking forward to my visit as well. For him, this trip is a little less exciting. He isn’t getting a bunch of days off to take a vacation to a foreign country like I am, he is a picky eater so his food options are very limited there and he is looking forward to the comfort of my presence. I’m so happy we will be together for Christmas!
When Rob isn’t here, there is a piece of me missing. Waking up in the mornings to no one beside me really drives the point home day after day that Rob won’t be coming home until April. Our baby cats won’t be seeing their cat dad for months. I’m not sure what they think is happening but Emilia loves Rob so there is probably a certain amount of bewilderment going through her head. I’ve been sending him lots of pictures of all of us to make him happy.
It’s going to be a long five months. It’s going to be a long winter. I just have to get through the next few weeks and then I’ll be arriving in Japan myself to see him! There will be another trip or two, as well. I want to see him as much as possible and am unwilling to go more than a month, or maybe a month & a half, tops. Plus, we don’t plan on spending too much time in Japan after this trip. Don’t get me wrong… we will go again, but not on a trip of this magnitude. Occasionally, the shipyard sends guys on month long trips and we are interested in going over there for those. We would make a little extra money and get a little more Japanese culture. The shipyard employees recieve a monthly per diem that makes these lucrative opportunities and we have some big financial goals for 2020, so this will be time well spent in the end. One place I really want to visit and didn’t make it to was Osaka so the goal is to go there for a weekend, hopefully hit up Kyoto as well, and knock those cities off our bucket lists. If we don’t accomplish this, there will be a vacation to Osaka in our future.