Friday, March 25, 2011

Kobe Kachoen.

Be warned: Foot shots ahead.

We came home from Kobe today. Alek said he wanted to stay in Kobe for the rest of his life. It sure is nice to stay in a hotel, not doing dishes, not making beds. We had fun together, making the most of these difficult days: No school, bad news, sad stories.

Yesterday we had another interesting day. We went to Kobe Kachoen--a bird park out on Kobe's Port Island. They have flowers, birds, and fish. The place is one huge greenhouse.

The flowers smelled so good.

Even the lunch spot was surrounded with flowers.

And then there were birds.

Our favorites were these toucans.
Yep. We fed 'em.

And they had this owl collection! Check it out, dad! Most of these owls are from Africa.

Okay, and then they had fish.

Only one kind, though. The kind that if you pay 300 yen, they will nibble the dead skin off your feet.

Only in Japan, ne.

This was up there with Dog Mind Cafe in terms of expectations not equalling the experience. These fish are big. And they go right at it. And it feels extremely wierd, ticklish, and gross. Max and I commiserated....we decided that if you think that the feeling is from fish eating your feet, it feels awful. If you think you are holding your feet over on astroturf in a stiff wind, then it feels just wierd.
Alek couldn't take it.
Max's feet came out very soft. Mine still needed a few more hours....I think I'll stick with pumice.
Hugo, defiant as usual, didn't mind the experience one bit.
Later we went to Kobe Chinatown...
We got a couple of street snacks.
And called it a day. Now we will spend a weekend at home....we will meet friends for Karaoke tonight, though!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring break in Kobe

Since the kids' school has an extended spring break, timed with Darrin being out of town, I escaped with the boys. We are in Kobe for a few days. You probably know this city was destroyed in the earthquake of 1995. It is a testament to how completely Japan can rebuild--this city is brand new and amazing. So it is turning out to be a hopeful place to be after the Tohoku earthquake. (Not to get political, but I sort of doubt New Orleans is going to look this good 16 years after Katrina).

I chose the Crowne Plaza hotel for this reason:

And it also has a killer breakfast buffet.
And a nice view. I paid an extra 100 yen per night for this. (Yes, that's $1.20). I booked the high floor thinking about tsunamis.

Kobe is a big playground. The first day we went to their small aquarium.

It's not as nice as the Osaka aquarium, but it has a dolphin show!

You can get splashed sitting in the front row...another daddy loaned my boys this sheet. People are so nice here. (Hugo chose to get wet.)
Then yesterday (day 2) we swam a little, and visited the earthquake museum in Kobe.

The gift shop sells disaster preparedness items.
These balls show the magnitude of earthquakes. The largest ball on the left is an 8. There was no 9.0 ball, but it would be a lot bigger.
We saw a three-d movie in the museum about Freddie the Leaf. It is sort of about death.

Waiting for our train....
In the late afternoon we went to Kobe Harbor Land--a shopping and amusement area. This is what happens when you ask three boys to pose for a single picture after they have spent about 6 straight days in each others' company.

This is about as good as it gets, folks:
We liked harbor land. They had a double decker carousel.
And these tubes, like water hamsters:

And you can ride these big toys.
We went up the ferris wheel. I always freak out on these.
But the view is great, if you can avoid looking down.

Today we are swimming some more, and then we plan to go to an indoor bird park with a special fish surprise. I'll tell you more tomorrow!