Monday, November 28, 2011

Mt. Hiei

Last weekend, Wendy and the kids spent the night at a temple near Yase as part of the Alexander retreat.  I went out on Saturday and saw where things were, but had to head in to downtown that evening since my lab was having a special annual dinner for all current and previous group members.  We ate at ifuji (いふじ) which was a really good traditional Japanese restaurant.  I don't know what the food is called, but there was a big pot of boiling water that you cooked meat and vegetables in.

The next morning, I went back up to the end of the railway to the temple (I can't read the Kanji and don't know what it is called).
If you take the Eizan line to the end (to Yase), here you are!

The kids and I decided to take the train up to the top of Mt. Hiei.  The first train is a Funicular train, with two cars that go past each other.  

I keep telling the kids that they need to smile for the pictures since they might end up on the blog.  So far, we've not been super successful at this.  But, if you look at the right half of the first picture and the left half of the second....


Hmm.  Maybe I can 'shop it...
PERFECT!  I'ts just they way it looked.  (Maybe I should consider a career in graphic arts?  Please contact me...)


Then, we took a cable car from half-way up to the very top!  
Kyoto from the top of Mt. Hiei!


It was an amazing sight, and N, M and I walked a long way to a big famous temple complex called Enryakuji.  


There is also a pretty garden museum at the top of the mountain where we ate lunch.  It wasn't quite the right season for the museum, and it was cold up there, but we walked through quickly.  The kids did their famous "bridge on a bridge" pose.



Stay tuned for more adventures!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Kyoto marathon!

I just found out 2 days ago that I made the lottery for the Kyoto marathon to be held on March 11th!  So, I'll be training for that as well.  Wish me luck.
The 20 mile mark (about) is right by our apartment!

fushimi inari

We went to Fushimi Inari a few weeks ago and I'm just now getting a chance to put up photos.  It is a shrine that has thousands and thousands or vermillion tori lining the paths.  There is a loop that is (we think) about 5 km long; we walked to the beginning of the loop and up and around a little ways.  It is just amazing.  There are sections where the tori are only inches apart, and other sections where they are more widely spaced.  You are walking through a forest, and yet, enclosed within these gates.
here we are towards the beginning

W and her parents went right; the kids and I went left

The kiddos enclosed in a tunnel of tori; we counted; there are at least 4-500 in this short 200 m section


We hiked up to a small lake and a little further on were some small shrines.



the fox is a messenger god; there were many foxes here, some with messages in their mouths, and others with no message

Its places like this that make me wish that 
a)  I wasn't totally illiterate
b) I knew something about Shinto

But it was really beautiful!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

school play

About 2 weeks ago, both kids were involved in the school-wide theater extravaganza.  It was all morning on a weekday; each grade did songs, skits, or both.  The 3rd graders did a recorder recital, while the 5th and 6th graders did complex multi-media plays.

M's first grade class did a series of songs that was about a trip to the zoo.  Here is the intro song:
video

N's 4th grade class did a long complicated skit about epic battles.  When we asked him what it was about, he said he didn't know.  Here is the sword fight scene:

video

The skit ended with a nice song (camera ran out of batteries, but you get the idea):

video


We really have no idea what was going on, but it was a lot of fun!

One thing we noticed is how much time was spent at school learning parts, and how seriously everyone was.  Part of every day for the last few weeks has been learning the songs and practicing on stage.  The kids all did a great job.  I honestly think that you would have a hard time finding such well-behaved kids (and well-organized and well-disciplined) in the US.  Its just a different ethic here.  Everyone took it very seriously.  And looking at M's class songs, where everyone was doing the motions in unison, it was really well done.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Toy store in Japan

Natty found these gems at Izumia (sing it:  I-Zu-me-yaaaa!!!)

First up:  creepy Japanese solar-powered bobbleheads:
video

And next two talking hamsters channeling the "talking Carl" internet meme:
video

That's all for today!