Friday, August 09, 2013

Costco Inzai/Chiba New Town! Fishing and also some water gun fun and preparing for the swimming competition

July 31st, last day of July. The day after I had pool duty, was the first day our family went to our nearest Costco. Costco Inzai/Chiba New Town. When we first heard we were getting a much closer to us Costco a little over a year ago, I was over the moon! Couldn’t believe it! I think for those of you to understand let me explain. Growing up in Denver, Colorado. We’d shop at Safeway. Everything was always at our fingertips. Rotisserie chickens were always there. Whole long aisle of cereal, choices were plentiful. Chip aisle with so many varieties available, BBQ, sour cream and onion, the list goes on. I guess I grew up where everything was readily available. I never realized how easy that was until I moved overseas. One time years and years ago, when Branden was about 2 years old he needed some Vicks Vapor rub. I ran to a Matsumoto Kiyoshi and perhaps because it was a Sunday or after hours (it was around 7pm) something like that... I could not buy it because it was a pharmacy item and not an OTC item like how we have in the US, maybe now that’s changed but believe me, we could not buy it.... all the stuff not for sale was roped off. Plus it’s way way less menthol-y anyway iykwim. Ever get a headache here, might get another headache trying to find a headache reliever. : ) True, they have Tylenol but the dosage is so low it barely works and a lot of my foreign friends have told me that also, that it doesn’t work as well for them too, as our American counterpart. So again, over the years I learned to lug chest rub and enough Advil to last me a year. Hahaha. That type of stuff you get smart about, real quick living here. And food is another thing. There’s no Stouffers French bread pizza or Budget Gourmet or Marie Callender's TV dinner section here (not that we used it a lot anyway, but granted, it’s nice to know it’s there if that makes sense.) Instead here it’s frozen gyoza and frozen karaage, that type of thing, again it's not bad just very different stuff then how I grew up. When we first moved to Japan, I lived semi close to Costco Makuhari. However, we were saving all our money at the time for our house we were planning to build. And so while I went there once a month, I bought very very little, very little in fact. And since moving here to the countryside, over the years, I have learned to make do and just shop at my regular Japanese grocery store. If I really need something, I try to bring it back from Guam. For the most part our dinners are yakisoba, Japanese curry, cream stew, beef stew. Nabes in winter. Cutlet or karaage about once a month, And the Cook-do’s are good too, or teriyaki chicken bowl, that type of thing. And finding a whole chicken unless it’s around Christmas time unless you have a Costco near you, is harder to find then you’d believe. : ) But I found about 6-7 years ago I can buy them at Hanamasa 2 for 1000 yen. So a fair deal, with enough for a leftover sandwich or two. : ) Turkey’s for holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas, again given how far I live from Costco Makuhari and adding the toll for the highway, 2200 yen or 1800 yen round trip. We were sort of better off buying online and we bought our turkey on line for  years! Seriously if you tack on the price we’d pay for the toll, it was better for us to buy online. Again, you can learn to get by and ways around not having a Costco. I did it, as you know for years.  And you all know for the most part I did okay not having one. We’d trek ourselves to Costco  Makuhari twice a year. But it was always few and far between, our trips. And I think that made my Guam trips more frequent out of necessity. Iykwim (if you know what I mean). So needless to say when I heard a year or year and a half ago Costco Inzai was opening, I thought...If this is REALLY true, then I will be happier then I could ever imagine. My life will change in a very good and positive way forever. Having things within reach so to speak. Because up until now, living way off in the countryside, and where most Costco’s are usually in the bigger cities, here in Japan, I’ve never had that luxury during all my years of living here in Japan.  So for the past year, since 85% of Noboru’s coworkers live in Inzai. So we would hear progress reports on the building. First week of August is when it was due to open and then about 4 months ago it was changed to the last week of July. I was giddy beyond belief. I have waited for a Costco to open near me for so long, you wouldn’t believe it. Hoping and wishing. If you have ever wanted something so much or so bad. And ever patiently waited for something so much... then you will of course understand, my feelings. Also, again, in the US if I wanted pizza, I could order a Carl's Pizza in Denver (homemade mom and pop place) or order a Papa John’s or Pizza Hut or Dominoes. Here where I live... in the countryside there is no Dominoes like my in-laws have in the bigger city in Osaka does, for example. Last year Narita City after all these years, finally got a Pizza Hut. And what did I do before that? I made my own pizza homemade from scratch. Yep, living in the inaka/countryside if you want to eat something, we learn to make it ourselves. Hahaha. There’s no ease of just ordering. And even though Pizza Hut in Japan is very delicious it’s smaller then the American size pizza and about 4,000 yen ($40 US) to fill our family of 4. So very expensive for pizza. Now with Costco Inzai open we can buy a really huge pizza for 1400 yen ($14 US). Again, these types of things have now greatly changed my life. All in a positive way, but yeah I just have never had that convenience all these years with living in the countryside. And now, how I guess I do. And I’m still not quite used to having this convenience if that makes even remotely any sense at all. But yeah this Costco Inzai/Chiba New Town has just changed my life for the better now. I’m so happy, you guys.  : )  Here we were driving up, we think this could be the employees parking lot? But of course it’s just a guess. But it looked different then the customers parking lot. And btw, one of Noboru’s coworkers wife got herself a little part time job working there! : )
Customers parking lot and entrance of Costco Inzai. It felt so good to finally be able to see the Costco I had been patiently waiting for, for the past year to open.  This Costco felt like "my Costco" if that makes sense. Meaning "my closest Costco" they have a ton of parking. Huge parking lot.  According to my time stamp it was 6:58pm. When I took this picture. It was still daylight but cloudy and breezy.  The sun was about to set, you could tell.
There were a good amount of cars outside, about 35%-40% filled parking lot but it felt sorta dead in there, real quiet and peaceful. It was my first time in years we actually got to cruise down a lot of the aisles and actually look and see things versus run in and rush out, like we normally have to. And we used to run in and out at Costco Makuhari only because we knew how long of the drive we'd have to drive back to get home so we had always no time to actually stop and smell the roses so to speak. But now.... knowing we are only a 30 minute drive from our home and no toll roads, just regular ones and the traffic is nil getting to our house to there. We actually first time ever got to stroll around with our cart. It was actually nice but sorta weird we weren't running through the store. : ) We got to walk slowly.  And fwiw, for those from Tokyo or the bigger cities, Inzai looks very country. But for us, coming from a town of under 5,000 people, to us Inzai is like a bigger city. Hahaha and plus Inzai has Gap. lol. So to us, they're like big city living to us, super country folks. : ) But it is still very easy for us to get here.
When we came out, it was pitch dark outside.  Also there are many things Costco in Japan doesn't carry/ have that they have in the American Costco (and I do notice it... since I do shop at the Costco in Hawaii and other stores like the Denver Costco before also). But honestly who cares. : ) It has way way more then I had before all these years... so it's still an upgrade to me. : )
The cookies we will buy again, but for us it was hard to use up the English muffins and croissants (just too many). Again we are all learning here at our house, from scratch basically. What will we use and consume before it expires and what do we have a hard time using up. You know, this part is going to be a learning experience. Because like I said we never had this luxury of having a near Costco here in Japan so, we are still trying to figure out...what should we buy for our family and what should we not buy. So again just another learning experience, it should take us a few tries before we can see what works for us and what doesn't. We're human though, we make mistakes. But we'll get there. : )
Chicken enchiladas. Noboru and I tried these once geeze, about a billion years ago and we liked these, didn't they use to also have beans in these too and olives were on top. No olives on top and no beans, these tasted really different then Noboru and I remembered. We didn't like these at all. Sorry. : ( We will never buy these again. And again, it's just a learning process we are now figuring out, the stuff we personally like and the stuff we shouldn't buy. Trial and error I guess. : )
Nuggets, to keep in the freezer and we can throw them in the toaster oven for a once a week lunch during Summer break. Gyoza, Noboru wanted this. And get this, you will not believe this, my Costco Inzai has no Prego huge pasta sauce like the Makuhari one does. @_@  Come on Costco Inzai. But I did ask them in person and I also wrote an email stating how I would love it, if they could carry it. And I will be sure to mention it every single time I shop there. What do they say about the squeaky wheel getting the oil? : ) I will try my best to get that changed. Because that huge Prego one is perfect for my chicken parmesan I make.  And I had never tried the Kirkland pasta sauce and debated buying that or the Classico but the price was the same, so I said why not try this first. : ) Flavor wise I prefer Prego though.
I can buy whole chicken already cooked now? Again if you're reading this in the states, you could be laughing. But it's just something that's never been readily available to me, with living way in the countryside, only in my dreams, hahaha. And now it's available to me? @.@ It boggles the mind! I still can't wrap my head around it you guys! But to be fair if you think about it, if for 8 years you had nothing like this available to you, you learn to make do and now you have this near you. It is hard to adjust back. And it's not going to be just instantaneously either.  Do you know what I mean? Of course, I will never take this Costco for granted. I appreciate this Costco Inzai more then it probably even knows. But yeah it's just for now...really really weird for me. It's going to take me some time. And I think I deserve that. But it's fair to say, I am trying to adjust and get used to it and it finally becomes my normal, but it's still not normal to me quite yet. : )
We bought 3 racks of ribs, we had planned to bbq after the swimming meet was over with. So we threw these in the freezer.
So we're unpacking our Costco goods from Costco Inzai/Chiba New Town. In the kitchen, same night, July 31st and the doorbell rings. @.@ Who on earth could it be, we thought? It was the actual kaicho back, only for the weekend from Bangkok. He had heard the Summer festival was a huge success, and he brought our family 2 fresh mango, to say thanks. : ) These were so good and so sweet!
Our dinner July 31st, we had rotisserie chicken and that potato casserole I had brought back from Guam (this potato casserole was horrible, you guys) and we also had green beans.
One morning we woke up and found a kabuto mushi, taking a snooze on our front yard. We 4 all stood out there watching him dead asleep on the grass.  The boys wanted to put him into their bug box. But Noboru went and told them, they only have 1 life, this beetle and they shouldn't lock him up in the bug box. I agreed. So, we got one of our bowls and the mango pit with fruit on it and an extra slice of mango for him. We didn't cage him he was free and could leave anytime. This kabuto mushi stayed with our family for a full week of his own choosing, on the front porch and grass. And every morning we'd wake up and he was still here and then one morning we woke up and he was gone. These types of beetles are very popular here in Japan with kids and you can buy them if you live in a bigger city, but they are very easy to find around here for free. : )
Branden and Noah have played water guns twice so far. A great way to stay cool. This particular day they played with the boy next door and his brother. And then yesterday, they played water guns with Genki.
About 3-4 days before the swimming competition we went to Xebio in Narita.
We bought Branden a new pair of goggles but wanted him to have 3-4 days to practice in them first. Plus the boys swim year round anyway and so we knew these could be put to good use anyway.
Summer goods like swim towels are now going on sale around Narita and our neck of the woods. Perfect time for us to buy, again since they swim year round anyway.
Branden and Noah each got the same Adidas swim towel. So we left Xebio with 2 swim towels and 1 pair of goggles.
Bikes, friends of Branden and Noah's have been coming by after swim practice on many days. The bike in front was Noah's though. : )
Another day,  Aoi (7th grader and brother of the girl in polka dot suspenders who crushed on Branden last year) and Kouta, and another kid whose name I forgot called and asked if Branden and Noah would want to go fishing. They asked me and I said sure why not! : ) So they gathered their poles, dug up some worms and they met at the local fishing spot. Good ol' country fun! : ) Hahaha. But on the bright side it's nice to see them out and about in the fresh air, off riding bikes, playing soccer, playing water guns and going fishing.
And this pic was taken exactly 1 day before the swimming meet. I had zipped there immediately after the boys swam and Branden did his last swimming team practice. We picked up only this, 1 big bag of dinner rolls (to be used for the sandwiches) 1 whole rotisserie chicken to be used for sandwiches for the swimming competition day and 1 whole rotisserie chicken to be used for the wave pool day for sandwiches also. Yep, we had planned ahead already. : ) And the BBQ (baby back ribs) would be for the day after the wave pool day. : )