Sunday, September 23, 2018

Eating Gold in Kamakura

Kamakura was once upon a time the capitol of Japan and so is therefore full of shrines and tourists.  We decided to spend a day there with my parents.
After walking though a busy little street we made it to a large shrine and the main tourist stop.  I was perfectly happy staying at the bottom of the stairs because I've been to this shrine several times before and it really isn't all that different form the many shrines all over Japan.
Calista on the other hand had a different plan.  She really wanted to go up the million steps.  Lets just say it took her a while.
I think this next picture is where people tied up their fortunes.  You can pay to get a fortune at the top.  We have never done it and I don't really want to.
Next was the tori gates and more stairs.  This time she was happy to wait at the bottom.  I already knew there wasn't much at the top.  I really wanted her to just run around a bit before she went back down the stairs and then back into the stroller.

There are tons of little animal cafes or different things to do in Kamakura, but I really wanted to try the gold ice cream. 
It was a vanilla ice cream cone with a sheet of real gold on top.  I thought it was pretty cool that we got to eat gold.  Bob wasn't there but I'm sure he would have thought it was a waste of money. 
In the end it wasn't that flavorful at all and I don't see why I would do it again, but I'm glad we got the experience.
We also stopped at this vendor and my parents got some street food.
Then we went to McDonalds and actually ate lunch before heading home.  This was our second time going to McDonalds in Japan (not counting the American one on base) and Tucker once again wouldn't eat his McChicken because it had cheese on it.  Hopefully next time we will remember before I order him one.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Tsukushino Course and 2nd Bon Odori

Tsukushino Course in Yokohama is so fun!  With over 60 obstacles you have to stay a couple of hours at least.   On our second trip it was super hot and we ended up once again not having enough water.  There are vending machines around throughout the park though and we were able to buy more.  If only they had drinking fountains then we could have filled up our bottles.

My pictures don't really do the park justice, so if you find yourself in the Tokyo area it is worth the trip.

That night our local shrine was having their own Bon Odori festival.  That is about all I knew so we headed in the direction where we thought it was and before we knew it we could hear the drums.  Then we started to see the crowds.  The streets were full of groups of people with these carts and drums on them.  They were slowly marching them toward the shrine.  It was really cool to see.
When we got to the actual shrine it was super crowded.  I couldn't even attempt to push the stroller around.  Keeping all the kids together in the crowded dark was a challenge enough.
 We just walked around and kind of watched their ceremony.

They also had a lot of street food, but we just finished dinner so we didn't buy any.

It was cool to experience some of the Japanese culture without feeling like it was a tourist event.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Kannonzaki and Bon Adori

My parents came all the way to Japan to visit us!  Of course while they were here we wanted to take them to our favorite park.  It was a windy day so the place was nice and empty for us.
We got pretty dirty on the roller slide.  This was Calista's first time riding down on my lap instead of in the carrier.  She did not like it, and it was a little hard for me to keep her hands and feet inside the carpet, or in this case off the edges so she didn't get a burn.  This slide is seriously no joke.

And there is plenty to do at the park besides the roller slide.
That night we went to a Bon Odori Festival.  I've read a couple different explanations for the festival time of the year but basically it is a Buddhist festival where they celebrate their ancestors.  

One site says, "is a special time of the year when the souls of the dead come back to visit the living."  Another website states, "In Japan, there is a period of time, as well as certain events, where people pray for the spirits of their deceased relatives and ancestors to be able to obtain Buddhahood without suffering. There are many events held around the 15th of the 7th month of the old lunar calendar, held to generally correspond to the four-day period between August 13th and 16th."  

Either way there is also lots of dancing, drums, chanting, people dressed in kimonos, and food vendors.
Tucker and Penelope were brave enough to get on stage and play the drums.

Yakitori is one of our favorites!  It is pretty much chicken on a stick.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Dentist in Japan

I've been putting off taking the kids to the dentist since we moved to Japan.  I loved our old pediatric dentist in Washington and I just didn't know what this would be like.  We have to pay for all our medical upfront and then file our own insurance claims to get reimbursed, so that is a hassle.  I also wasn't sure how the language barrier would go.  But I have to say everything went pretty well.  In fact we had a 4pm appointment for four of my kids and we were out the door by 4:30.  It was amazing.

The waiting area was small compared to the states but it was cute and had the perfect little play place.  They also had a cartoon on that didn't require any speaking.
The staff spoke english to us and was very helpful with the insurance forms.
The kids were nervous this time for cavities.  I kind of was too.  We only have preventative insurance so any fillings we pay for 100% on our own. 
 Thankfully all their brushing and flossing paid off and they are still cavity free!  Whew!
We are watching, and budgeting,  to see if braces will be in their future and for now the jury is still out.
Notice how Calista has her shoes off?  That is normal in Japan.  This play area is carpeted and it was expected that anyone going on it takes their shoes off.  They even had courtesy slippers you can put on if you prefer not to be barefoot.
Because of the dentist location it is easier for us to just ride the train there.  Once finished we walked around a little downtown and found the yummy bread truck.
Now that the kids have gone it is time for me to stop procrastinating my own appointment.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Mt. Ogusuyama Hike

Tucker was begging to go on a hike since he got his new hiking backpack and so we finally had a free day to take him.  We made sure to get up early and go before it go too crazy hot outside.  I've done this hike before with the kids and thought it would be a good one to do again.
Bob carried Calista the whole way.  She didn't love it.  She used to love the carrier, and now she wants out of it if we keep her in too long.

We almost made it to the top.
This hike has a nice flat area at the top to eat lunch or just hang out and enjoy the view.  We did both.
Calista was so happy to be walking around.
After resting for a bit I got the energy to hike the last few stairs.  There were plenty on this hike.
Bob took this panorama shot from the lookout.

I love getting outdoors and spending time with family.