from Tsubame-Sanjo, Niigata, Japan. Also the reason why the courier phone number doesnt go through.

We left for Japan on the 13th and have spent nights in Tokyo (Naka-Meguro, Setagaya, Tsukiji), Hayama (coastal town south of Tokyo), Kurashiki (Okayama), and now Tsubame-Sanjo, Niigata. Our daughter Ryoku-chan had her one year birthday days before we left, and she is now visiting Japan for the first time. It is snowing constantly here in Sanjo, it is freezing cold, and Ryokucchans grandparents house is also freezing cold. You can see your breath in most of the house, and each room has a few kerosene heaters. Only the small family room has a running kerosene heater, and a kotatsu electric heater under the table. of course all the toilet seats are heated (i am very seriously thinking about this for courier, but no time on this trip).

We drank Courier’s Santa Barbara farm El Salvador coffee for the first week, also giving it away as gifts. we brought 50 pounds in one checked bag of clothing, two laptops, toys for Ryoku. And a second check suitcase (50 pounds) of just gifts as it is traditional to bring everyone a gift after traveling. in Hayama we visited The Five Beans where they made us coffee, and where we also picked put 300g of Sumatra coffee. They also graciously gave us samples of 6 other lots of their coffee.

Thanks to our Hayama friends the Noninoko family we were also gifted a beautiful vintage Konos coffee mill, made in Tokyo, We are using this now after a quick cleaning with fresh rice from our familys rice farm, located directly next to our house here in Sanjo.

Having a small child makes everyone your friend in Japan, and i guess everywhere. In a country where people try to keep a straight face and be very closed in public, little kids have people opening up and smiling more.

Lets see, trip highlights:

ramen at dennys, coffee at service areas off the highway from automatic machines, “Boss Black” can coffee (utterly terrible, and i actually like canned coffee). kissaten after kissaten- literally old style coffee houses with mostly diner coffee made in large batch brew- but some of them brew to order. Kissaten often offer things in a set- like toast+coffee+boiled egg+ green tea. Kissatens are anti trend in Japan- and so are wonderful places. people watching is amazing here. really cool jumpsuits, escalator ramps, and public bathrooms that talk to you when you enter.

Making coffee at other peoples houses has been interesting. even with the same coffee we find ourselves making coffee with different tastes each time.

as some have figured out i took the courier phone on our trip, but contrary to our plans verizon stopped supporting international roaming with my phone. so call and you will be given a email for me if you need, but please be aware of the time difference. best from Japan- us.

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