I have talked about my friend, Dacia, before in this blog. We met earlier this year and have gotten really close over this summer. She is a lot of fun and we have a lot of the same interests. Unfortunately a few weeks ago she found out that she is having to PCS much sooner than we expected. She was suppose to PCS back next summer like us. Instead she is leaving the beginning of December. I know I am going to miss her.
Before she left though, Jeremy and I wanted to have one last adventure with her. We found out that she had never been to our favorite Starbucks near Miyajima. We decided to take her there and then go to Hiroshima for dinner. Dacia decided that for the adventure she would wear her panda onesie and a sign in written in Japanese that says “I want to hug”. She looked adorable.
We went to the Starbucks that is across the bay from Miyajima. Jeremy and I had found it during the summer. It’s part of a pit stop that is off of the expressway but thanks to Google Maps, we found a tiny, windy back way up the side of a mountain to get to it without paying for tolls. We call it Narnia because you park behind a what looks like a warehouse and walk through this random door (we only know about the door because a Japanese worker showed it to us). The door opens in to a Japanese rest stop. There is a few different vendors selling squids rolls or deep fried oysters or roasted hazelnuts. There is also a restaurant, a gift shop, and of course the Starbucks.
At Starbucks, one of the baristas brought us tiny fresh cups of Christmas blend coffee to try. It was delicious and much needed on such a cold day. We sipped on the coffee as we looked through the holiday mugs and thermoses that were on display. Dacia and I needed holiday mugs to go with our growing Starbucks mugs collections. I didn’t get a Japanese looking one. The one I got was just a plain cream colored mug with the Starbucks logo on the front, a gingerbread man on the back, and candy cane handle. It was cute and festive. After choosing a mug we went to order our drinks. Jeremy and Dacia got the new White Chocolate Raspberry lattes and I got a Gingerbread latte. The Gingerbread Latte was a much stronger tasting drink than the ones that I use to get in the states. These tasted like a Moravian cookie. Yummy!!! Outside Starbucks, Dacia found a corgi in need of cuddles.
Out past the Starbucks is a park leading to a large tori gate. After you go through the tori gate there is a picnic area that overlooks to the bay. Across the bay is Miyajima Island. There are view finders that you can use to see the large tori gate in the water at Miyajima. It was really cold out there so we only stayed long enough to take some pictures before we headed back to the car.
After getting to Hiroshima, we decided to park near Don Quixote. We were surprised to see a large festival going on. All around the plaza near Don Quixote and along all the streets near the store were tons of vendors lining the sidewalk. Most were food vendors, some for gift vendors, and a few sold drinks. With as many times as I have been to Hiroshima, I have never seen a festival near Hondori street like this. I’m not sure what the festival was for but it was fun to walk around and try different foods. I got Dacia to try taiyaki. She had a chocolate one while I had a cheese one. I picked that flavor because the label was yellow. I thought it would be yuzu but it ended up being a camembert cheese type filling. It was still delicious.
Even though Dacia wore her sign, she didn’t get any hugs. She did have a lot of people stopping her to take pictures with her and little kids loved looking at her. Walking around we were surprised to that she wasn’t the only one dressed up. We found a guy dressed up as a doctor wolf and some dogs dressed in French maid costumes.
After doing some shopping and walking around a bit we decided to find someplace for dinner. Jeremy was in the mood for ramen so we tried to find a place that was serving that. Instead we stumbled upon a Korean restaurant that only served Sundubu. The funny is I knew it was Korean restaurant before we were handed an English menu because of the chopsticks. They were metal and I had just watched a youtube video about the difference between Japanese, Chinese and Korean chopsticks (fyi Japanese are shorter and pointier, Chinese are longer and rounder, and Korean are metal). None of us had had Sundubu before but we were up for trying new things. It was really delicious. It is basically soup with tofu, shiitake mushrooms, clams, shrimp, leeks, and egg served in boiling hot broth. Jeremy and I also had rice with ours.
As we headed out of Hiroshima, we saw that the lights along Peace Blvd were already set up and turned on. It’s starting to feel like Christmas. I just wish Dacia would be here to celebrate with us.
On the way home, Jeremy received a text message stating that the base was on lock down. Earlier that day a Marine in Okinawa crashed a government vehicle while driving under the influence. He killed an elderly Japanese man. Because of that, all active duty military members in Japan were restricted to base and an alcohol ban put into place. Thankfully Jeremy didn’t get in trouble for being off base when that went into affect. The lock down was lifted the next day for our base but we are still under an alcohol ban. We (spouses and dependents included) can’t buy alcohol or consume it on or off base (in residence included). The alcohol ban doesn’t really affect Jeremy and I because we don’t really drink. I’m grateful Jeremy is allowed to leave base again because there are many things we wanted to do this month for Christmas. I feel bad for the man who was killed and his family. I’m keeping them in my thoughts and prayers.