Monday, March 28, 2011

My Mos Burger addiction

I love keeping up with Japan. It's been almost a year since I left but I still love that country and its wonderful people. One way I keep a foot in Japan is by following the Sakura hostel blogs. I recommend you stay at a Sakura hotel or hostel when you're in Tokyo-- they're very reasonable, have excellent locations and the staff are friendly and fun. I regularly stayed in the Ikebukuro and Hatagaya Sakura Hotels (never tried the hostels because I'm just not a hostel kind of person). In fact, my last 5 nights in Japan were at Sakura Hotel in Hatagaya, which happens to have a Mos Burger right around the corner.

Here's a short blog entry about Mos Burger from one of the Asakusa hostel staff. It's got some fun info on the chain. Did you know Mos Burger introduced the first teriyaki burger? I didn't, but I do know teriyaki burgers are a staple of Mos-competitor McDonald's.

One thing I always enjoyed about Mos Burger is they don't prepare your meal until after you order it. Which means you have to wait a little longer than you would at McDonald's or Burger King, but you always get hot, fresh food served to you in a little wicker basket. Mos Burger's fries are incredibly delicious when hot. Sometimes I crave them.

My first Mos experience was way back in 2003, on my very first visit to Japan. I was in alone in Tokyo, out in Mitaka to visit the Ghibli Museum-- and because I'm math-challenged, I'd shown up too early to go in. See, your Ghibli Museum ticket comes with a specific entry time. It helps cut down on crowds and makes your experience inside the museum more pleasant. But if you're an idiot like me, you might misread the 24-hour clock and show up at, say, 1300 when you're supposed to be there at 1500.

Hungry because I'd skipped lunch in my determination to make my museum appointment (stupidity compounds itself), I set off down the street to find a lunch spot and kill some time. I'm not sure how far I walked, maybe 5 minutes or so, but I found a Mos Burger. I'd seen a few of those around Hamamatsu and Tokyo and decided to try. This was also my first time ordering food by myself in Japan. The restaurant employees got over their initial shock at seeing my white face stumble through the door and the girl at the register gave me a big smile and steeled herself for what she more than likely expected to be a confusing encounter with a jerk-ass foreigner.

Actually, with the Ghibli Museum right down the road, the Mos staff were probably used to dealing with us. The cashier showed me how to point at the menu and I quickly chose who-knows-what. A hamburger with what looked like chili on top and a side of fries and a soft drink. She gave me a plastic tentlike thing with a number on it and gestured towards the dining tables. I'm sure I was grinning like a fool.

The food came hot and I enjoyed my inaugural Mos experience. Later I learned how to say my order in Japanese and also to love their teriyaki chicken sandwich. The Mos Burger at Zaza City in Hamamatsu became a regular lunch spot for me on days I worked, and the one near Sakura Hotel Hatagaya became a place for me to grab a quick meal before going to a Melt-Banana show in Shin-Okubo or Shibuya.

The main source of confusion about Mos Burger is what the Mos stands for. Someone once claimed it was short for "Most Delicious Burger," but if you look at the food wrappers, you'll see it really stands for "Mountain Ocean Sun." But it is pronounced like the word "most" with the t chopped off, not moss.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Japanese commercial

A former student of mine posted this and I thought it was amusing so I'm sharing it with you. Just to lighten the mood for a moment.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Here's a more comprehensive list of charities

If you are so inclined, please check out this list and the information it contains about various organizations that are attempting to aid Japan during this crisis. This site also contains some useful advice on giving you might want to consider.

Donate money...

Here are links to the three organizations I chose to donate to (partially because I respect their missions and partially because of the percentage of the donation that goes directly to the relief efforts as opposed to administrative functions):

1. Save the Children
2. International Medical Corps
3. GlobalGiving

That's not a knock against these other organizations that are helping Japan now, too, many of which I've donated to in the past. I do things intuitively. Make up your own mind, but please help:

1. The American Red Cross
2. Salvation Army
3. Doctors Without Borders
4. Peace Winds
5. Operation USA
6. International Fund for Animal Welfare (for animal lovers)

This is only a very limited list. There are many other groups, agencies, organizations and foundations that are also contributing to Japan's needs. I urge you to take some time and find the one that feels right for you and help those who need.

Donate directly...

1. Food (instant foods, dietary supplements, baby foods)
2. Warm blankets
3. Clothing;
4. Baby clothes, and DIAPERS!!!!

Attn: Earthquake Relief Supplies
Miyagi Prefectural Office
3-8-1, Honcho
Aoba-ku, Sendai city, Miyagi
980-8570, JAPAN

Attn: Earthquake Relief Supplies
Iwate Prefectural Office
10-1 Uchimaru Morioka city, Iwate

Attn: Earthquake Relief Supplies
Aomori Prefectural Office
1-1-1 Nagashima, Aomori city,
Aomori, 030-8570, JAPAN

Attn: Earthquake Relief Supplies
Fukushima Prefectural Office
2-16 Sugitsuma-cho, Fukushima City
960-8670, JAPAN

NOTE: If you send food, please make sure all the items in each box are the same. Also, new baby clothes, not secondhand. That may change if things become more desperate, but apparently that's the rule for now. Believe me, your contributions will be GREATLY appreciated.

(From my friends Jon and Hiromi Bauer)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thoughts of Japan on a terrible morning

We've got NBC and CNN on and I'm emailing friends in Japan. News of this nature is mindboggling; it's difficult to process. When I left Japan, my heart remained there-- so many friends, so much love. Today I'll be praying for them all.

Here's an ABC reporter describing her experience.