After that we got our cable/phone up and running, as well as internet/skype. We skype'd my mom and talked to her for a bit, which was really fun since I haven't talked to anyone since we left. Skype is great b/c you can see each other too. The other great thing here is that we actually have a US phone number- it's a 713 area code! We can call the US and people stateside can call us for nothing- it's like calling next door. How crazy is that? Cable (the 70ish channels we get- most of them being Air Force Network)/Phone (with that US # we can call here and the states for free)/Internet all together only cost us about $120 per month- not bad at all!
After we got that all set up and talked to my mom, we went off base to a place called Joyful Honda. It is the BIGGEST store- crazy for a country with such a lack of space and everything crammed together. But it is huge- a big grocery store, a pet store, an arts/crafts store, a wal-mart type store with all kinds of cleaning/organizing/furniture type stuff, etc. It was fun to just wander around and see all kinds of stuff. We did have a list of things we needed to pick up to start a household again. Unfortunately, we were low on yen and the ATM's in the store (4 of them) either didn't take our card, or were 100% in Japanese and we had no idea what they were saying, and the stores here don't take US money or credit cards. So... we went back to base, and to the BX to buy some stuff. They didn't have all we needed though (they have pet food and cat litter, but no cat boxes or scoopers or leashes) so we stopped by an ATM, got some yen, and went BACK to Joyful Honda. Pets here are SOOOOO expensive- it's insane. To buy a dog or cat is about $2k! Supplies are expensive too- we spent $75 (Y7500) on a cat box, dog bed, leash and 2 scoopers- isn't that ridiculous? Oh well, we spent $600 getting them here- gotta take care of them!
The really crazy thing is that Joyful Honda is maybe 5 miles away from base, but it took us about 20 min to get there. Driving here is weird. The streets are so narrow and curve around all over the place. Plus the speed limits are usually 40 km/h and that's if you can even go that fast b/c of all the other cars on the roads. Things look close, but are much further than you'd think, so you have to allow time for that.
After unloading our stuff back home, unpacking some more, etc. we decided to get off base for dinner. We had no idea where to go, so we just got in the car, went out the gate, and drove for a bit. We ended up finding a place called Restaurant Mitsoya. I think it was like the Denny's of Asia :) They handed us a menu 100% in Japanese and we just looked at each other wondering what we were supposed to do. Luckily, they handed us another one with a few pictures, so we literally just pointed to one, and tried to say a few word in Japanese (I had my handy-dandy Japanese translation book in my purse thankfully, so we could look up words like chicken, steak,beer...) It was good food, and you could tell they were proud of our efforts and attempts to speak Japanese (although I am sure they were hilarious at best).
The best way to get out and learn and figure things out is to just dive in, so we did just that today and it was really fun. Not sure what we will be up to this next week, as Brett doesn't really have to go into work yet, so hopefully we will have a few more opportunities to get out and get cultured very soon! I'll keep you posted!