We make a trip to the Japanese grocery store, Mitsuwa, about once a month. It’s only about a thirty minute drive away from our home but it’s sometimes hard to get out there, so when we go, we go all out! We spend as much time as we want perusing the grocery aisles and picking out new treats to buy. I love Japanese snacks and sweets. Some of my favorites are pictured above. Salad Pretz are skinny “biscuits” that have a savory salad flavoring. Happy Turn (the blue bag) is a rice cracker with a really unique powdered flavoring on it…it’s hard to pinpoint what it tastes like, but it is delicious. On our last trip to Japan, I ate a snack bag of Happy Turn every day and I brought back six family-sized bags. (To be fair, a family-sized bag in Japan is much like a small serving by American standards.) Since then, Mitsuwa started carrying it so I don’t have to be a snack hoarder anymore. This bag of Happy Turn is a special “summer edition”. I’m not sure if that means it tastes different, or just that there is a fun beach scene on it…and my translator wasn’t very much help. Pocky (pronounced Pokey) is another skinny biscuit-style snack, but it’s sweet and not salty. It comes in all sorts of flavors (a few kinds of chocolate, strawberry, coconut…). This was the first time I’ve tried the mint–so good! (The box is actually empty because I couldn’t help myself.) And the blue tube is Ramune candy. I’ve been eating this candy since before I knew Naoto and like Happy Turn, it’s hard to pinpoint the taste…kind of like Sprite, but different.
Naoto loads up on Japanese cooking staples like rice, natto (fermented soybeans…definitely an acquired taste–and one that I will never acquire!) miso, tea, ramen noodles and vegetables. And we always check out the bottled beverages to see if there are any new flavors of Calpico, a milky, tangy beverage–we like lychee the best.
While Naoto pays for the groceries, I head to the book store and spend a massive amount of time painstakingly deciding which stickers and paper-y things to buy. This time, I bought some teeny cat stickers, some matryoshka doll stickers (I use them to highlight dates in my paper calendar…the little hole encircles important dates perfectly!), animal index stickers, petite to-do notebooks, and colorful cat gift enclosures.
A trip to Mitsuwa is always followed by a stop at our favorite Japanese restaurant, Izakaya Sankyu. (Sankyu deserves its own post soon and it will get one next time we visit.) It’s nice that there’s a small taste of Japan right here in Chicagoland to tide us over until we can plan another trip overseas.