Monday, February 4, 2013

Farewell Lunch at Primavera Restaurant

I had the pleasure of spending almost a year working at the Marine Corps Family Team Building office in Iwakuni and just recently left the position to recharge my batteries and get my life ready for the new baby. 

One of the best parts of working at MCFTB was the women I worked with. I learned so much from the big personalities in my office and am so grateful to them for helping me learn the ropes quickly. 

As a farewell, the ladies took me out to lunch and our director stopped by to say farewell too. They took me to my favorite restaurant in Iwakuni: Primavera! 

They just don't get any cuter!

My lunch: salmon & squash, chicken roulade, fried pork, and a shrimp croquette. You also receive a tiny soup and salad with lunch.

A friend's set menu came with dessert - AND a New Year's Samurai!

The ladies who work at Primavera are very talented artists.
If you'd like to try Primavera, check out the directions in the free base magazine, the Preview. If you have an iPhone, you can go to the Maps app and type in Primavera:

The red pin marks the spot.
 It's located in a residential area and does not have a lot of parking, but you can usually find a place nearby. A good landmark is the Iwakuni train station. Look for the symbol on your map to help guide yourself to the restaurant. 


My favorite day trip while living in Iwakuni is Miyajima Island. We try to go anytime we have a free weekend and the weather is clear because it's so magical and scenic unlike the very industrial city of Iwakuni. The bonus is that we get to bring our little friend Eddie with us!

Eddie is a sucker for attention. This doesn't bother us because it's the only way we have any interaction with Japanese people. People of all ages love to hang out with Eddie! We know just enough Japanese to tell people he's a mameshiba, his name is Eddie, short for Edamame, and that he is almost two years old. People usually laugh at his name, but he doesn't mind.
Joe is holding Eddie for a picture with the famous floating torii gate in the distance.
These little girls couldn't get enough of Eddie! Kids always go straight for his curly little tail.
Eddie participates in all the tourist photo opportunities with no shame.
Joe and a bridge near a hiking area. He called these deer "troll deer" because they live under the bridge.

Miyajima has a lovely new coffee shop called Miyajima Coffee. We stopped for drinks and read our books on a park bench with a view of the water and the gentle deer.

This guy was sitting right next to me the whole time.
Miyajima is a must for anyone passing through the Iwakuni/Hiroshima area. It's easy to find your way around, the hiking trails are beautiful in every season, there are great places to find lunch or dinner, and you can bring your favorite four-legged friend!

Yamaguchi City

We just went to Yamaguchi City for the first time on Sunday and tried to see our fair share of sites in the area. The big event on Sunday was the monthly Flea Market. It happens on the first Sunday of the month from sunrise to 3pm. We got on the road around 8:30am and it took about two hours with a few wrong turns mixed in. Beware if driving: the tolls added up to about $40! Parking was free.

As we are preparing our house for a new baby in May, we don't have a lot of space to share with antiques. It was really fun looking around at gorgeous wooden boxes, old tools, those hilarious garden-gnome-style beavers wearing hats, kimonos, sake barrels, and crafts, but we didn't find anything that needed to stay in our house. We found a few things for our taste buds though: apple cider and fresh apple pastries from a local apple orchard! 

Five-Storied Pagoda
After our shopping trip, we headed over to one of the most famous pagodas in Japan: the Five-Storied Pagoda. It was a beautiful day and we took Eddie for a walk along the grounds. 

A nice stranger offered to take our picture. Why not?
After relaxing in the sun and doing a little hiking around the pagoda, we got back in the car and went over to Xavier Memorial Church. It was built in 1998 but memorializes St. Francis Xavier's work in Japan 400 years ago. 

A Catholic church in Japan
Thanks for bringing Christmas over here, St. Francis Xavier!
We usually try to go somewhere that looks interesting for lunch on day trips but there weren't too many places in Yamaguchi with English signs. We ended up going to a little place called "Organic Delicatessen" but found that it was more of a grocery store and buffet. Nothing was freshly cooked or very exciting.

On our way back to the highway, we made a few more stops. When we saw the sign "Fresh and Half-Price Bakery", how could we refuse? We stopped in at the little store that looks like a gatekeeper's house and bought a loaf of white bread and 4 various rolls for under 200 yen. What a great deal!

We hopped back in the car and I had to see what the "Dog Cafe Hanegawa" was all about. Were dogs allowed in? Was it dog themed? We brought Eddie in and everyone fawned over him.

Not only did they have a Dog Cafe, but they also had a dog hotel, dog salon, dog park, and a small shop with dog accessories. We loved it! Eddie had never been to a dog park before so he didn't really know how to behave with the wild pack he encountered. He eventually warmed up and played with a friendly black poodle and a tiny Italian Greyhound. 

While we were there, we thought Eddie might like to get cleaned up. We try to shampoo him regularly but it's a wet and time-consuming process! It's also a big season for shedding for the little guy, and the pros know how to brush him enough to minimize his shedding. We heard a few little yelps while sitting in the dog cafe reading and eating sandwiches, but I think they treated him very well overall. When he was done, it was almost dinner time, so we treated him to a special meaty meal for being so brave:

Eddie at Dog Cafe Hanegawa with a fresh shampoo and blow dry!
Joe smooshed the treat for Eddie's convenience and Eddie really enjoyed it! After a long day of adventures, Eddie and I slept for the ride back and gave Joe a chance to catch up on his Diane Rehm podcasts. 

What a great day! 

The next day, Monday, the Superbowl was on at 8am here in Japan and the III MEF Marines had the day off to enjoy this wonderful American institution! We ate pizza and wings for breakfast, bought a game pass to watch the game and commercials on our TV, and had the Puppy Bowl streaming for me and Eddie. Thanks for the long weekend, Marine Corps! Ooh-rah!