Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Kinpozan (the Mountain)

So today I took the two oldest to climb a mountain.  The Mrs. stayed home with the snotty little one (not his personality, he is just very mucusy [not to be mistaken with couscousy, a tendency to be a little dry and flavourless]).

So we three set off on a little winter adventure.  As we drove south grey clouds were skudding across the sky.  Trees bent and strained as I tried to keep the car on the road.  Perhaps I was too preoccupied with the weather as we missed our turn.  A pleasant gas station attendant was more than happy to point out the error in our ways.  "Way back there" would probably be the closest translation.  So after doubling back we found the right turn (it should have been a left) and started up the mountain.  One more double back later and we had reached the parking lot at the top.  Totally empty.  We walked up to the temple and passed this tree.
We call trees like this "mother trees".   It has never been overtly discussed but when hiking we are almost always on the lookout for Mother trees.  We really enjoy finding them.
The view from the top was really beautiful.  This is the sea of Japan side.  If you look way to the right that is where I do most of my fishing with the father in law. 
There were little shrines all over the place.  Some religious discussion but very muted.
This shrine had a big sign posted just before it.  The basic mythology is that a boy who loved fishing went out one day and drowned.  His mother climbed the mountain to pray for her son.  This cave was the place where she prayed.  Since that day, her tears have continued to drop from the roof of the cave. I wondered if they drop in during the dry season.  That is if there is a dry season.
Next we went to a cool lookout and managed to take a timed shot.  Yeah me, I got in the picture.  This is the Kinko wan bay side.  On a good day the crater of Sakurajima would be spewing ash from right between the kids heads. 

After much tramping around, we headed back down the mountain and went for noodles. 
Then as usual we found a cool park to play at before heading home.

Todays big win was bringing home some omiyage (treats from a trip) for mom.  It was a long adventure and there wasn't actually all that much hiking but we had fun.  Probably the last hike of 2010.  Hopefully 2011 will be full of adventure too.

Best wishes to all for an exciting, adventurous and fulfilling 2011.

Youii Otoshi wo Mukaete Kudasai.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The night before.

Well it is a return to the good old days here.  Last night the Mrs. and I made dinner and I actually pulled out the camera to snap some pics.  The dinner involved some home made shake and bake, (I used some cinnamon) to coat the chicken.  There is a major connection between fried chicken and Christmas here in Japan.  I think it is a marketing thing by KFC. So instead of ponying up the big cash and wondering how my body is affected by MSG we made it ourselves.  Of the forty mini drumsticks (large hot wing size) there were only 5 left after dinner.  So that was a hit.  The spaghetti was my classic meat sauce.  Also quite well received.  The Mrs. was on for the veggie platter and dipping sauce.  She also garlic-ed up the bread. 

By the time the adults sat down my Mother in law had added some dishes with a slightly more Japanese flavour.  However, by then I was lounging quietly trying to estimate what time I would be in bed by. 

The kids were all in their beds by 10:30 and I think for the most part they were asleep by 11:30.

We woke this morning to find that Santa had visited and there was much ado.  The daughter received the eraser making set.  Originally she was disappointed because it is a little difficult to do but with some dad help we have now officially made a clover eraser and she is satisfied with her santa request.  The older boy received a remote control car.  The antenna on the controller is now half the length it is supposed to be but the toy still works.  How many times can you tell a five year old to be careful.  The little guy got a block balancing game which can also just be blocks.  I didn't get his official statement but witness report that he seemed neither disappointed not overly excited.  Next year.

Well it is time to settle down with a beer and a book.  Currently watching toy story 3 in Japanese.  Good times.

Ps.  these pictures are from the community Christmas party.  Some pretty wicked cakes if you ask me.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Festive Holiday Spirit.

I almost titled this post the Christmas Spirit but I didn't want to offend any of my readership.  You know how it is. 

So anyways yesterday was a pretty great day here.  We started in the morning with the neighbourhood Christmas party.  The Mrs. and I took the three kids over to the little community hall next to the park.  I didn't know what to expect as the Japanese treatment of holidays can sometimes be a little off.  However, this event was awesome.  The basic concept was to get the kids of the neighbourhood together with some of the older folks in the neighbourhood.  They started off with a cake decorating session.  There were nine groups of 2 or 3 kids and one elder.  Each group was given a roll cake, some whipped cream and an assortment of decoration candies.  Then they decorated their Christmas cake.  Christmas cake is a Japanese specialty.  A classic Japanese christmas meal is a romantic dinner of KFC and christmas cake.  Fried chicken and a white frosted cake equals santa. 

Anyways after decorating they sliced it up and everyone got to eat part of their creation.  At our table the youngest didn't do much decorating but he enjoyed his slice.  The daughter was at our table and did a major portion of our decorating.  The son was at a different table and was sent scathing looks by his father each time he snuck a decoration or took a furtive finger full of frosting (okay it was whipped cream but I loved the alliteration). 

After the feasting everything got cleaned away and I did my best at avoiding being volunteered to entertain the kids.  It was touch and go for a moment when the wife asked me to teach everyone a christmas song in English.  However, I hemmed and hawed long enough for the people from the library to arrive.  They presented two sing along songs (in Japanese but accompanied by finger puppets) two books, and one story told with picture cards.  None of these were winter or Christmas related.  Fair enough. 

To finish off they give out some gift packages and then had a kuji.  This is where the kids pick a number out of a bag and then get the present associated with the number.  Everyone got two picks so our kids were mostly satisfied.

Post party the older two had made plans to play at the park.  So after a quick walk home and some lunch they were off again.  However, they were told to be back by 3:00 as we wanted to go into town and see a movie.  I managed to get a run in and by 3:08 we were on the road, minus the baby who was having his afternoon nap.  Both parents felt a little guilty about leaving him behind.  But we dealt with it and moved on. 

The kids both napped in the car for the half hour ride to Chuo station.  Otherwise the drive was uneventful.  Upon arrival we split into two groups.  The Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 group consisted of me and the kids.  The shopping and having some leisurely alone time consisted of the Mrs. 

The movie experience, aside from the $22.00 adult ticket price, was great.  The son sat in my lap for the last half (its a little scary) and the daughter felt like she was trying to rip my arm out.  We shared a big popcorn and everyone had their own drink (I know I would never choose melon soda).  We took a pee break with about half an hour to go so now I have to wait for the video to see the three minutes I missed.  The movie ended at 6:38 and I had told the Mrs. that we would meet her at McD's between 6:30 and 6:45.  Fortunately, getting their was pretty much a straight shot.  We rode the elevator ride from the sixth floor to the basement.  After a (cannot think of appropriate adjective ) dinner at McD's we got back in the car and headed back home.

All in all it was a great festive, holiday kind of Saturday.  Some quality family time together.  And when we got home the baby was pretty happy to see us.  Turns out when he woke up he wouldn't take sympathy from his grand parents or aunt.  Instead he turned to his 4 year old cousin for the soothing hug he needed.  After that he just played as usual till we got home.

Good times.

love out.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sports day.

Just a quickie to say that our latest movie is up on Youtube (or should be up by the time you North American's read this).

Our movie can be found at this link.

However, I have another link of a whole day of a high school sports day compressed into two minutes.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Totally Bisho Nure.

Recently I have noticed a real cultural shift in my kids.  Occasionally they will have trouble explaining something in English.  The title of this post is what the daughter said today in explanation of why she wasn't wearing he usual shoes to school, they were totally bisho nure.  I asked her to explain herself in English (in my defense I did understand her Japanese, I was just probing the incident).  She paused for a few seconds and then responded that her shoes were "wet... very wet."  I commented back that they were probably "soaking wet" and we headed off for school.

This topic actually came to mind a few days ago in the bath.  I was getting out of the bath and the son and daughter were still in.  I asked them if they wanted me to put the cover over.  If you do this then it makes kind of a cave/grotto effect and they enjoy it.  The son response was great he said, "Boku drown suru my mimi gets baikin".  Basically he was going for, "If I submerge my head then I will get another ear infection."  He didn't know the English, submerge or the Japanese Shizumu.  And his only ear infection explanation has been in Japanese from his mom when he went to the hospital last week for the ear infection he had.  The Japanese word for ear infection is something I don't remember but it is a long word that doesn't include the words ear or infection.  I can't remember it so the son had no chance.

The son pops out these mahze go (mixed language) statements all the time these days.  It is very endearing.

In other news the Mrs had her 37th Birthday on the weekend.  She baked a cake and we had te-maki sushi for dinner. 
 The next two pictures are almost the same however, the son's expression in both is just priceless.

 Finally we have the four varieties of cereal (two bags of each) that the Mrs. managed to pull in for filling out the form on the back of a cereal box and sending it in.  Fortuitously this arrived on the day she a) had just complained to the mother of one of the son's friends that she never wins anything and b) had her birthday. 
Cereal anyone.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A study in Contrasts.

So the boys are more like this

The daughter however seems to be more like this.

Recently the son has been (un)fortunate enough to have a friend with a DS to spare.  He is fully into gaming.  Whether it is on the DS, online with this computer, or using the play station at home he is fully integrated.  Now being entirely susceptible to the draw of gaming myself I have great sympathy.  However, as a parent I still have to ask the question, where do I draw the line between an entertainment and over use?  I have never managed to draw the line for myself.  This is a problem.

The daughter was running with all of her classmates in the yearly grade wide distance run.  We went out and practiced for this a few times.  During the practices there was lots of walking and she really played up the fact that she wasn't very good.  Then she finishes 12th out of 38.  Which was an improvement on the 19th she had managed during PE class.  Her results were great, but beyond that there was how she managed herself leading up to and during the event.   A few times she tried to get all worked up about doing something where people would be watching.  I talked her down a few times but I don't think her heart was ever really in it. Best of all, in the end everything went fine.  It is amazing how far she has come since arriving in May.  I know she still feels like everyone is watching her all the time because she is different but she is handling it way better.  I am very proud of how far she has come and how hard she has worked.  

On a different note we are looking forward to Christmas here.  The fathers group has scheduled a Kite Making with your dad session.  Christmas morning 9:00 to 12:00.  I was going to skip it out of principle but I figured that was foolish so we will be at the school making Kites on Christmas morning.  When in Japan, eh.  Of course this means we will be able to take part in kite flying competition in early January.  Kind of a New Year's thing.