Friday, March 17, 2023

Beatrix's 4th Birthday

My baby is four years old!  I can hardly believe it.  
Beartrix is the silliest of my kids.  It is like she spends her time trying to be silly and hoping we will laugh with her and tell her she is funny.  Her main technique is to say things that couldn't possibly be true like "I'm going to eat the house," or "I think shoes are yummy."  She also likes to reassign everyone's identity.  So she will say things like "I'm mom and you are B."  Then we need to now act like the other person.  One of her favorites is to make herself a baby.  When that happens I need to rock her and tell her not to cry.
Beatrix also loves to play games and to win.  Her favorites are Spot It, Memory, and racing up the stairs.  Sometimes she gets really upset when she doesn't win, but she is getting better at losing.
Like a typical four-year-old she gets worn out and grumpy in the afternoons.  When that happens she can be unreasonable and cry and throw fits for things that really don't make sense at all.
Her favorite shows are Vamparina, Elana of Avelor, Minnie Mouse, and My little Pony. 
Beatrix goes to all day preschool and it can be difficult to get her ready some mornings.  Sometimes she doesn't want to go, but mostly she wants to play while I'm trying to get her ready.  She will do things like put her socks on her hands or put her vest on backwards.  She always wants to hide and then for me to tickle her when I find her.  It takes us way longer than you would expect to get her dressed for school.  Then when I go to pick her up she runs to me.  It is really cute, but then we have to spend a few minutes finding her friends so she can wave bye to them.  
On her birthday she requested puffed pancakes for dinner and a strawberry cake.

Happy Birthday Beatrix!

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Nagoro Scarcrow Villiage

After a somewhat scary drive we made it to Nagoro "Scarecrow Village."
This small town in Japan is inhabited by hundreds of dolls or scarecrows.  It has been featured in the news as "One of the most terrifying places on earth," and "Straight out of a horror film."  It is essentially a ghost town with less than two dozen living residents, all of who are over the age 55.  This place had such an eerie vibe.

Everywhere we looked we saw them.  Just doing a quick glance around it looked like there were people out and about, but when you stop and look closer you see none of them are alive.  It was so creepy.

We were snooping way to close to a residents home, thinking it was abandoned, when I saw a shadow move inside.  It scared me, because we were already on edge.  Then I noticed smoke coming form the chimney.  After a few minutes she came out to talk to us.  
Well, she actually invited us in.  Her name is Ayano Tsukimi, and she is the one making all the dolls.
Her house seemed like a typical old Japanese house except it was full of dolls.
She only spoke Japanese, but she was able to show us that she makes the dolls.  She even had a little pamphlet with Japanese and English explaining.  It says that this is the town she grew up in, but she lived away in Osaka for a while.  When she moved back most people in the town had died or moved away.  Her dad passed away.  She was lonely so she made a scarecrow of her dad who often worked in the garden.  Other town people seemed to enjoy seeing him there, so she made more to represent other people, and it grew from there.

This next one is representing a wedding.

We found this room in the community center.
The school was the craziest part.  Literally hundreds all lined up.  We didn't see any other tourists there, but we know they sometimes come because people signed the chalk board.

The next on is Tucker and Leon pretending.
Ayano Tsukimi hopes that more people will move to Nagoro and bring life to the town again.  I honestly do not think it will work.  It was really hard to get to.  Our GPS told us we thought we had an hour and a half drive from the airbnb so we left at 6am.  We didn't find the town until about 3:30.  It was a horrible drive.  Think very small one lane roads going up a windy mountain.  Our first way we ended up turning back because of ice.  We didn't know it was on a mountain, so we were not prepared with chains.  The second way we tried we almost made it but we got completely stuck on the ice.  It took us a couple hours to get off.  I had to go walk to an abandoned nearby ski resort and steal a shovel (I was originally going to bring it back, but wasn't able to get back up to where I took it).  Then we had to dig at the ice and try over and over again to get off the ice while Bob and Tucker pushed on the back of the car.  It was scary and cold.  After we got unstuck we found a new route that was three hours to the village.  It was a stressful drive to say the least.  I do think the towns location has everything to do with it being abandoned.  There is nothing really there.  No stores, restaurants, even vending machines.  I would have like to stay the night, but there was no where to stay.

It was definitely an adventure.  I'm glad we got to see this town that is so unique and a little bit scary.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Iya Vine Bridge

We took a quick stroll across Kazurabashi Vine bridge while in Iya valley.

"The bridge itself is tied to the legend of the Heike clan, once the most powerful ruling clan, who fled into these mountains from their enemies. This bridge was once the only way to cross over the deep canyons in this area, and was built with vines that are easy to cut in case of enemy pursuit. Nowadays, the bridge remains an important National and Prefectural significant folk cultural asset, and visitors come from all around Japan to test their courage and cross."
I didn't know it closed at 5pm and when we arrived the man at the front desk pointed at the sign that said closed at 5 in English.  I pulled out my phone and pointed at my clock that said 4:59.  So he waved the sign away and starting talking to us about prices.  Unfortunately I didn't realize it cost money and cash only, so he had to wait a few minutes for Bob to run back up the the car to get money.  I was glad he let us do it, but felt a little bad that he then had to wait.  
The bridge is 45 meters long and 14 meters above the river below.

Bob was terrified Beatrix was going to fall through.  I walked across slowly with Calista, who was scared, but we made it no problem.  I didn't think it felt scary or dangerous at all.  Bob thought it was the worst part of the trip.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Greenland Amusement Park

On the last day of our trip (sorry going out of order here) we headed to Greenland Amusement Park.  I was surprised by how many rides they had.  It was a full out theme park, but because we went on a Monday no lines.  I think every single ride we did we got on once the current people on the ride finished.  There were even plenty that had nobody on the ride that they let us straight onto.

The most surprising thing about the entire day was Tucker and Penelope's willingness to do big roller coasters.  They did them all!  And without prompting.  In the past Bob and I had to practically make them ride one, so they usually just didn't.  This time they were running ahead doing them all and talking about how fun they were.  It was so much fun.

There were no record breakers or anything like that here, but I did go on my first standing up roller coaster, which was pretty cool.  Beatrix was also very adventurous with her ride choice.  She wanted to ride everything but because of height restrictions she of course couldn't.  There were plenty of rides that Calista was crying about and not enjoying that Beatrix had fun on.

It was a fun day.  The kids all loved it and I think it made up for the extremely long car drive they did the two days before.