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2007 May 19 Saturday.

It didn't rain much today, but the wind was strong and it felt cold and damp 寒くて湿っぽい.   

It reminded me of Seattle where I lived for about 6 years before moving to Asahikawa.   

Chilly.   

The photo you can see on the above/left is of my lunch for today.   

Inside the clear bowl on the right is what the Japanese call IKuRa.   

In English it's known as Salmon Eggs.   

This is a very popular and very expensive food here in Japan, and I normally don't eat it very often, although I really love it. 

The only reason I am eating it today, is because we got it for free!   That's right, courtesy of the Japan Postal Service. 

I'm sure everyone knows about the annual New Year's Card 年賀状 that most people buy and send to family, friends and business contacts.   

At the bottom of every NenGaJo, there is a unique six digit 六桁 serial number which is used as a sort of lottery system.   

There are three levels of prizes, 1等 2等 and 3等.   

In years past, we have won a few times at the lowest level, level 3. 

This prize is something like a sheet of stamps, or a stationary set for letter writing, that sort of thing.   

You only need to get the last 2 of the 6 numbers correct in order to win this type of prize.   

The level two prizes are all some sort of food item.   

You need to get the last 4 numbers right in order to win this level of prize. 

That is what happened to us this year, for the first time.   

In total, we received 400 grams of Salmon Eggs, less than half of which you can see in the clear bowl. 

The other half is in the white bowl on the left, covered with Salmon Flesh Flakes 鮭身ほぐし and some strips of green 大葉 also known as しそ.   

In English it is known as a perilla or beefsteak plant.   

It is a very common ingredient in many Japanese foods.   

Below all of that good food is a big helping of Brown Rice 玄米.   

A dish known as 鮭親子丼.   

Anyway, back to the IKURA.   

If I were to buy 400 grams of IKURA at a morning market 朝市 or a supermarket スーパー, it would most likely cost me somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 yen.   

That's more than 50 US Dollars!   

Granted, I can get two or three meals out of this amount, but that is still rather pricey.   

However, it tastes soooooo good, and I can afford it from time to time.   

The level one prize 1等 requires you to get all six numbers in the exact same order. 

A very small chance indeed. 

However, the prizes are things such as; A Trip to Hawaii, A Trip to Somewhere in Japan, a laptop PC ノートパソコン, a DVD recorder with a Home Theater Set, or an SLR digital camera with an Ink Jet Printer.   Wow!!!    

I can't make up my mind!      

If you won the First Prize, which option would you choose?

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