Thursday, December 29, 2011

back "home" in Kyoto

We are safe home again.  Our apartment seems spacious.  Kyoto seems small.  Its going to be weird.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Tokyo Disney

Tokyo Disney. Day 1 of 2 complete. Tomorrow is Disney Sea, which is sort of like the California adventure version of the park. Today, we rode Star tours (hearing the droids speaking in Japanese was very strange), space mountain, the western train, toured Cinderella's castle, small world, Buzz Lightyear, Snow White, and the kids did tea cups solo. we ate pancakes, pizza, hamburgers, corn soup, popcorn. Thunder Mountain closed while we were in line. We did NOT eat the curry, or other traditional Japanese food out and about. Strange to NOT have burritos near Thunder mountain. Strange food included curry popcorn and "meat pie." Oh we also had ice cream, because 38° wasn't cold enough. And strawberry churros...

Pictures later, when I have a better internet connection.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


We've been in Tokyo for about 3 days now.  It is so big; it is amazing how many people there are.  Trains run high above ground every 5 minutes, 10 cars each, packed with people.  Subways run just as frequently, several stories below ground, just as packed.  We've been mostly exploring in a small areas north and east of Tokyo station (Asakusabashi and Asakusa) and there is so much more of the city to see!

We arrived on the shinkansen (bullet train) on Thursday late and it took us more than one hour to go 3 subway stops from Tokyo Station to our hotel in Asakusabashi.  We are better now that we have the lay of the land figured out. We saw Cirque du Soleil our first day here which was amazing.  Unfortunately, Wendy has been feeling sick so yesterday, Christmas, was subdued.  Santa did find us in Tokyo, much to the kids delight.  They each have new socks and cool ladybug pocket watches.  My host at KIT got them puzzles and crafts too.  We've been eating yummy ramen and sushi (M has been eating her standard yogurt and banana).  Oh, and we have evidence of her eating mochi!

There was a big Christmas light decoration set up down town last night.  Here are some pictures.

The cylinders are candles and the white things fluttered in the wind and made noise.

two major streets lined with white trees met at the main display...

...of multileveled changing colored lights and music...

...the whole display was probably 100 yards long!

Finally, here are the kids doing their best impression of what I looked like when we arrived at Tokyo Station:

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Tree!

We went shopping today at one of the big stores near us (Qanat). Wendy wanted a calendar and we got sucked into the Christmas decorations and ended up with a tree, and each person picked out an ornament! It brightens the mood a bit. We are heading to Tokyo this week. We will be at Tokyo Disney on Christmas day, and Disney Sea (Like Sea world? but Disney? Its supposed to be better than Disney world) the next day. We are also riding the shinkansen (bullet train, しんかんせん) and seeing Cirque du Soleil. Its going to be a big week!
Here are the kids.  The ornaments tower over the tree.  M picked out the pink Christmas tree, N picked out the blue Santa, W picked out the bunny, A picked out the wreath.

We are seeing these "gummy" decorations all over.  M made a wreath...

... and N made good use of candy canes, holly and stars!

We got them Santa hats last week on our quest for Christmas lights and decorations.  We also have seen some good lights; these are near Doshisha University:

and here we are inside the Teramachi arcade (covered shopping district downtown)

also, we got haircuts!

I can't believe we've been here 4 months already.  Sometimes it seems like the time has flown by, and other times (like when the kids are screaming about how they don't want to go to school) it seems to be dragging on.  Next summer will be here before we can believe it, I know.  I am trying to enjoy and savor every moment.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Taiko drumming

i just had my first taiko drumming class this evening. It is so fun! I get to hit a big giant drum with sticks 3/4 inch in diameter as hard as I can and shout "Yop!" and "Ha" and "Yo"! Supposedly we have a performance in the spring!  I am taking my classes at the "taiko center" which is about as far away in Kyoto as you can get from where we live/where I work.  Its a 30-45 minute bus ride, but it is really a lot of fun.  It was me and 8 women, and the teacher is a woman too.  Half of the students are older... its hard to say but late 50s to 60s I think, and only 2 or 3 are younger than me, so its a good mix of ages.  When we're all playing in the tiny practice room it is so loud; you can feel the drums rather than hear them.

I will try to get pictures or a video.