Friday, February 25, 2011

Saturday Morning

Come hang out with us on Saturday morning.

We're having our first Japanese bagels!

This one is black sesame with sweet potato chunks inside. It was delicious. We also had a "cheese and raisin" bagel but it wasn't that good. There were two plain and a shinnamon, too.

What are we putting on them? Cream cheese of course.

Now, after breakfast, we are playing beyblades in the tatami room.
...and watching an anime about baseball. The tension runs high.

Stop by if you're in the neighborhood!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dog Mind Cafe. Osaka Castle.

Osaka is different from Kyoto.

I'm not just talking about the fashion. (Osaka fashion can be c-r-a-z-y). (If I were more brave, I would have taken a photo of the man in Timberland construction boots, tight jeans, and the fuzzy white fur hoodie.)

The people are more laid back than Kyoto people, who tend to be a bit on the formal, traditional, "that's not funny" side. But my friend told me today that if you are talking to an Osaka person, when you finish your sentence, the person is likely to ask you, " what's the punchline?"

Osaka's also a bit on the urban side.

Our first destination was Dog Mind Cafe.
We didn't go there for the special Hokkaido dog snacks, though.

Or for the $700 dog leash.
We went because for 500 yen, you can play with dogs that live there. It's one of those "only in Japan" kind of things.

Here's the Bull Terrier, "Ten Ten" giving Darrin a big lean and a snore.

Later, the same dog climbed into Max's lap, on top of another dog who was already sleeping there.

Mostly the dogs did this:

Evidence of past shenanigans.

I had a nice conversation with this standard poodle. Hugo is consulting the "dog menu" which is a description of the different dogs and their names.

This poodle had a pink rabbit shape groomed into her side fur. Nevertheless, she maintained an air of sophistication.

Overall, this was a fun experience, but it felt a little weird to have these dogs just come up and fall asleep in our laps. Like they had indiscriminant attachment issues. They seemed healthy, but it wasn't clear how much they get to play outside.

After lunch, we walked to nearby Osaka castle.

There are two layers of moats, and one of the biggest stone walls in Japan.

We went up to the top floor for the view.

Our boys were jaded. After climbing the original wood ladders of Hikone castle, they are spoiled. Max said, "This is lame--there's an elevator in here, and the railings are metal and plastic!" (The original castle burned down a couple of times, was rebuilt, and then bombed in the war, so this is a recent reproduction with a modern museum inside.) Oh well. Not everything is as authentic as Kyoto, ne?
In the museum they had a cool series of hologram movies about Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who built the original.
You can pay to put on a samurai helmet and coat. This was really entertaining....
The boys couldn't stand too close together or they'd clash horns.

So, another interesting day.

To cap it off, as we rode on the train home Max kept saying, "what is that noise? what is that noise?" It was this baby, snoring like a truck driver:

Moved to tears....

Do you see this pile of clothes? It makes me cry.

But not how you think. It's tears of joy. If you look carefully, you'll notice that all of these clothes have been turned right side out before being dumped on the floor.

It was my new years' resolution: To get the boys to turn their clothes right side before they go into the laundry. Every night, the chant has been, "Brush your teeth. Flip your clothes. Put them in the laundry box."

What's special is that tonight, Hugo even announced, "Mom. I don't have to flip my clothes tonight because you know what? If I take them off this way....." [he demonstrates] ."... then they're already flipped!"

See? Tears of joy.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Nine Kyoto Images

Happy Saturday!

Here are nine pictures we took today. First, a bunny barricade.

A bunch of dolls looking out at their shrine, known for women's health.

Alek and Hugo at Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum. Hugo is shoveling coal, and Alek is taking us to Osaka.

A tetsudo otaku? (train geek)....

Did you know there is [or sed to be] a video game where you could pretend to be a train engineer? You can get points for following the speed limit and stopping right on the line.

Alek, his swirly, and our 36 sushi plates.

A few minutes earlier...Hugo eating a crispy fried fish skeleton. The boys ate two bowls of these.

This bench was parked in clear view of about 8 JR train lines near Kyoto station. I like to think these ojiisans hang out here every day, chatting and watching the traffic.

Some plum blossoms in the palace park. It's almost plum blossom season...can you believe it?!

We have a really big show planned for you tomorrow. But I don't wanna jinx it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Comparative Literature....

As many of you know, Darrin and I share a love of fine literature. So you can imagine how excited we were to introduce our boys to the nuances of Japanese writing. Our boys have embraced several Japanese texts, many of which come beautifully illustrated. (That helps, because their Japanese reading skills aren't yet fluent).

Max's most recent purchase was a "Korokoro comiku" which came with a bonus poster.

One side had Pokemon pals.

The other side featured this cheerful character:
And his many, many friends. I'm sorry you have to tilt your head to get the full effect of BeanMan, Fish man and Ge-chan (gecko-chan), below.

And here's Mukimukiunko. He is a deep character, that one. He's friends with Supah-Unchikun and Chinchinkun.

We were gratified that our boys wouldn't be too homesick for the quality short stories they like to read at home--which are also beautifully illustrated....

...and which resonate with many of the same, classic literary themes.

Perhaps someday, Supah-unchikun can join forces with Fred and Harold, and take a ride in Poopsie. Whew, would that be a smelly ride or what! Ha ha ha aaaaaahhhhh....