Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Helpful stairs.

The subway stairs at Shijo Station help you count your calories (in reverse!), along with offering lots of inspiration for not using the escalator. It's good for your hamstrings, it says.

If stairs really burn .1 calorie each, then why am I not down to 100 pounds by now?
(Okay--you're not saying it but perhaps you are getting tired of hearing about weight loss. How about I start talking about the rainy season instead?)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

School Festival....

Something we learned recently: A typhoon does not make ideal conditions for a school festival.

Set up the day before was a little rainy, but we all knew the forecast.

The indoor events went off as planned, including the flea market.
I wanted this big Cuisinart, but I held back.

Despite the fact that it poured all day, we sold all the food, including 80 hot dogs at the American booth. Some with chili and cheez. (We beat the Australians, who were still selling steak sandwiches an hour later.)

We enjoyed some quality entertainment.

The girl behind Alek is his fiancee, C. A lovely girl from a lovely family. A moment after this, she started pulling on his ears. (Affectionately.)
Rain boots make a good retaining wall, as it turns out.
Our next challenge: Laundry during rainy season. Care to join us?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Stuff on sticks

We went to a fun place for dinner with some friends. Our boys love kushiage--fried stuff on sticks. This kushiage place combined two great Japanese trends: Tabehodai (all you can eat) and Do it Yourself.

We got trays of starch and bread crumbs.
Then you pick out the food you want at the buffet (chicken, shrimp, scallops, veggies). Alek still has a bit of zombie hair.
And fry it up. Yes, Aunt Lisa, that's hot oil.

They even had these cute tai-yaki on sticks. (There's azuki paste inside).
I dipped mine in bread crumbs and fried it up. Because, you know, I wasn't sure when I'd get another chance to eat a deep fried tai-yaki!
We did some damage,
...but not so much compared to the six teenage boys sitting at the next table.

May Pole!

We've heard nothing from Alek lately but "three days 'til May pole!" "Two and a quarter days 'til May pole!" The kids at school have been working hard and we got to see the final product today in the gym.

First we helped the Grade 1 kids get ready. They were dancing to "Thriller....

Look who's MJ!

Max's group is ready, too. They danced to "black and white", and decorated their shirts with their native countries.

Grade 1 was a little bit excited before things started.
First was ECP, dancing to "Rockin' Robin." This was the cutest thing I have seen in my life.
Sorry--lots of blurry photos here. I was giggling .

Then Grade 1's turn! MJ and his date came in first. (I know--the pants should be shorter! My one regret.)
Then the zombies lurched in. There will be a video of all this by that guy with the camera, so let me know if you want to see it.
Grade 2/3 did a really great weave to "Soul Sister."
Who's this teenager?
These guys did a "spider weave", which is very difficult apparently.
After weaving and then unweaving everything, they did a little shaky shaky thing at the end.
So....that was a fun time!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Remember when we went to Shigaraki? Well, last night, the KuroNeko guy came to deliver the box of fired pottery. (Side note: When you're not home for a delivery, you call to reschedule, and the delivery service will come over that same day up to 9pm. They even come on Saturday and Sundays).

Here's Hugo's pot:
And the platypus:
And Max's:
Oh, and the pottery place also sent along Hugo's hoodie, which he had left behind.

We seem determined to distribute our belongings all around Japan, and they seem determined to give them all back to us...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lost and found....

Last night, Hugo realized that instead of carrying the bag of posterboard all the way home from school, he had left it behind somewhere on the walk (because he had to throw some flowers in the river, you know....) Japan has a reputation for helping people recover lost items. And we have certainly tested that reputation ourselves this year:

I've left my scarf in a restaurant--of course they still had it when I went back.

Alek left his winter mittens in another restaurant. A week later, when I was finally in the same neighborhood again, they were tied up neatly in a bag and hanging in the back.

Max, as you may recall, left his bag of books in the Amanohashidate train station last February. We picked them up later at the koban where they had been duly registered.

Then there's the time Hugo left his Lego guy in Kura Sushi, and the cashier ran after us for two blocks to give it back.

One time when I got to work, I realized that my yellow mitten had bounced out of my bike basket somewhere. I retraced my steps on the way home, and found it on a bench.

Alek fell off his bike once, and didn't notice that he'd also dumped out all of the bottled drinks he'd been carrying in his basket. When I went back to look for them later, someone had picked them up and put them carefully to the side.

Recently I left my empty bento box in a taxi (I was probably distracted by the taxi driver's extensive knowledge of Major League Baseball, including every last Philly). A few minutes later, he came running into the boys' school with it (a block away from where he dropped me off).

So far the only thing we haven't found has been one of Hugo's early BeyBlades, left on a bench in a kids' park. Probably some foreign kid took it. (Only kidding.)

So, sure enough, Hugo and I found the bag of posterboard sitting right on the ground where he'd left it, 4 hours before.

I could get used to this.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bey Blades: The Tournament

Mini flash mob action on Sunday. Lots of kids from school were heading to Bic Camera today to get a spot in the Bey Blade tournament. So we showed up too.

It's legit. Sponsored by the WBBA.

We got there late, but managed to squeak in three last minute entrants to round out the group of 32.
Here's the scene.
Talking some pre-tournament strategy.
....got beat in round one. (So did Hugo).
But Alek made it through round one against a school buddy. Knocked hers right out of the ring for the 2-point WIN.

Game face ready for Round two.
Alek won round two, too! Way to represent, Alek!

Round three.....well, not his day today.
This is a terrible picture but the boy on the left was the ultimate champion. He had it all: The full set of bey blades. The padded carrying case. The glove. The mini warm-up stadium! The boy was all business (and so was his Dad). Good job, number 21.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A little more weekend...

May 15 was Aoi Matsuri--the finale. We went over to the Imperial Palace to catch some of the parade while the boys looked at bugs.

Heian period costumes just don't do it for them anymore.

Here are some bad pictures for you to pretend to enjoy.

People lounged on the grass eating onigiri after the parade.

After lunch, we went to Arashiyama (again) to see a boat festival.

The scene below is of people waiting for a "furoshiki workshop" to begin outside the station. A furoshiki is a large square of cloth you can tie and fold into useful things like bottle holders, wrapping paper, and tote bags. We saw several people, including two young men, sitting there with their furoshikis, waiting for the workshop to start. (Would American men do this? Alone? Voluntarily?)
We ate senbei the size of the moon.
We saw the special boats on the river. That's right--those are Heian period costumes--twice in one day!

We hiked up the trail a little bit. I think these are wild orchids. Kurt, what say you?
Adventure on the river.

Not another temple? Sorry, folks, it was an accident....we were lured by the signs....
We did. We rang this big bell one per son.

We got a "great view."
We saw a one-armed monkey.
And we saw this cool snake taking the fun way home.

Another great day, another affirmation that a smart mommy never goes anywhere without an extra pair of underwear and a plastic bag.*

*See Surprising Breezes, definition 1.