Sunday, September 9, 2007

Back to the U.S.A.

It is going to take me a while to digest this trip. I have taken hundreds of pictures of food, landscapes, people, the ocean, the sea life, the cars, the houses and I can't post them all here. Email me if you want to see them because I will put them all on Snapfish.

Our last day on Amami and our last night were amazing. I have had a wonderful time and want to come back to Japan soon.

We walked around Osaka just a little bit today to check out the Sanrio store for Grace. I really like this city.
And here are some more videos from Amami...

The first is one of Noah's sumo attempts and the second is Honoshi, which is an unusual stone beach that we traveled to the far end of the island to visit.
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Friday, September 7, 2007

Sumo

Kind of like being in paradise...



I absolutely love sumo wrestling. I know it seems really odd to most non-Japanese people but there is so much more to this sport than meets the eye.

Last night we went to the practice for young boys in the town where I'm staying and Noah got to join in.




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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Amami Oshima

This whole trip has been like a dream in some ways and now I am back on my little tropical island Amami Oshima - watching my kids play on the beach where I enjoyed myself immensely at 22.






It is so peaceful and gorgeous here but internet is a bit scarce so I don't know if I'll be able to blog much more while I'm here.


We'll just be chilling on the beach for the most part...

Monday, September 3, 2007

Onsen

Today we went to a massive department store called Takashimaya. There are 8 floors and each is enormous. We didn't have time to visit all the departments so we spent most of our time in the basement where they sell food. I took tons of pictures to try to capture the feeling of this space but I could not capture the smells and sounds or the feeling of wanting to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner there every day for the next month in order to be able to try everything once.









Check out the 10 dollar peaches.And the $15 grapes.


Afterwards we drove to the countryside to an onsen on a lake in the mountains. It is so beautiful and peaceful here and the meals they serve are elaborate and traditional with lots of fresh fish, some of it raw.


What do you think of this breakfast?

Noah has decided he likes soba noodles, which is a big step for the kid - we are working on him trying new things but meals here are definitely presenting him with challenges. We have another week so I'm still crossing my fingers that he'll decide to start eating rice...
Tomorrow we are going to Amami Oshima - the little tropical island where I lived for a year. I don't know what kind of internet access I'll be able to find there... looking forward to going to the beach!!!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Wedding

Today was a wonderfully fun day for us. It was the wedding, which was really lovely. We had the enormous honor of attending the actual ceremony. That was an incredibly special experience that we feel very lucky to have been invited to attend.

Here are a few pictures from the reception. Each guest received a personalized bottle of Tamba wine.
Can you read the label? "This wine is very friendly and gentle."
They gave me a bottle of grape juice to share with the kids ... and to match my personality...
Of course I took pictures of each course, but some of my pictures were a little blurry today. The appetizer course was really yummy and served in beautiful little ceramic bowls. I don't know what all of it was, but it was delicious.
Next was the sashimi course.
This was the shrimp course. Notice that it is a whole shrimp! There were three other courses that I didn't get good pictures of. All of the food was wonderful.
They asked Grace to be a flower girl so she did this with the bride's nephew. It was totally adorable!

This was truly a wonderful experience for our family. In fact, Noah made a friend during the reception and invited himself back to the boy's house so they took him home for a couple of hours for a play date while Grace and I took a nap and Andrew went drinking with the guys.

Tomorrow we are going to a hot springs resort. I love Japan!!!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Tamba Winery

Andrew's host family owns this winery. They have been taking care of us since we arrived and continued this treatment today, taking us to Tamba Wine for a picnic feast. We sat next to the vineyard where they let us grab some of the grapes to eat with lunch.
You can see they have both white and purple...
This was a traditional bbq - we cooked our food over hot coals in a pot right on our table.
When we left, they gave us some grapes to take with us - these are about the size of an eyeball and are absolutely luscious as is all fruit in Japan. When you bite into one of these it does something funny to your senses because they are so flavorful and like nothing you have had before.
Tomorrow is the wedding. I can't wait!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

First Day

I took so many pictures today of so many interesting things that I can't post them all here. So here are just a scant few.

First, check out the controls on the toilet in our room. Nice, huh?


But, this is what a normal toilet looks like in Japan. Not nice...
This was my breakfast. Sorry to put it next to the picture of the toilet. In any case, doesn't it look so healthy? That green drink is green tea milk. Yum!
This is a little crepe stand in a typical grocery store. The kids love trying the colorful juice drinks here even though they don't taste good to them.
One highlight of our day was going to the beautiful Gold Temple. It is called, "Kinkakuji" and is built in an absolutely beautiful, quiet area surrounded by gorgeous nature. There were hundreds of tourists there who will remember at least part of their visit to this peaceful place as punctuated by the gleeful screams of two insane American children.

I finally had my first "keitaidenwa" research session last night. This one is older, not expensive and definitely not loaded up with the works. You can't watch TV on it for example. But, like all mobile phones in Japan, you can scan things with it . See the little square on that business card? You scan that with your phone and it opens a web page. This phone also comes standard with video calling - very smooth, clear, perfect picture - straight out of a science fiction movie. You can also pay for things -even from a vending machine - with this phone!We also went on a cruise of the biggest lake in Japan - lake Biwa - but I'll save those pictures for another day.

Enjoy this video of a talking bird we found who can say, "wow" in Japanese. You'll hear it as, "sugoi, ne!" The kids went nuts over this and apparently when we get home we are going straight to the pet store to buy four parrots. The kids each want one that speaks English and one that speaks Japanese.


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