Thursday, June 28, 2012


N went to camp today. He is at a 5 day outdoor camp and returns home on Monday afternoon. We packed 4 days worth of clothes (essentially all of his clothes) and about 8 towels (most of our towels). The list of what he was supposed to bring is very long and detailed. We had to buy him cotton work gloves (they will be cooking and these are insulated) and a flashlight and an extra bath towel and all sorts of other things.  I saw him off this morning. They all piled in to a Kyoto City bus and drove off around 9:00 AM.  I can't wait to hear all about it.

M is sad that N is gone; she wrote him a few notes and made him a few origami prizes and we hid them in his suitcase.

Here are some pictures from the last week:
What we've been drinking lately. This is some sort of apple liquor and its sweet taste has offered me many cheerful moments.

M went into the duplicator and now there are two of them.

Same thing for N!

We had a visitor from Tokyo, Yoichi. This is what he saw. Just a normal family portrait.

Ok, this is better.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

japanese grocery store songs

Different foods in Japanese grocery stores have different songs.  Actually, almost everything has a song here. When we first arrived, we were pretty much assaulted continuously with songs. The train has a song. The recycling truck has a song. The fuel oil truck has a song. The entrance to Family Mart has a song.  I am trying to collect these now before it is too late.

Here are three of our "favorites."

the "spicy sausage" song at the Seisenkan Nakamura.  At least, we think it is about spicy sausage... It's near the bacon...
when the kids in the video say "BOOM" (its actually pu, but that doesn't mean I know why they're saying it) they put their hands on their faces like the scene from Home Alone.

the "sakana" song.  Sakana is Japanese for fish.  "Fish, fish fish...."
for some reason, this one cuts out. It normally keeps repeating.  They guy behind the counter kept staring at me. Then he came out and told me the fish was "Oishi!"  (Delicious). I am sure it is. The fish here is GREAT.

And, Wendy's favorite, the "Mini-mini" song that they play outside the "Mini-mini" apartment rental place. The song is about 20 seconds long and it repeats every 24 seconds. Wendy said she would last less than one hour if she worked there.
Sorry about the sideways-ness of this one. Hold your computer sideways and sing along!

I recorded the first two on my phone this week; the mini-mini song is from March. Maybe if we have time we will go back and get higher fidelity versions, but to be honest, they're playing the songs over cheap boom boxes so its not likely...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hiroshima and Miyajima

Here are a few pictures from last weekend's trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima.

Hiroshima style okanomiyaki. make a thin pancake, pile on cabbage, bean sprouts, spices and toppings, cook for a while, then flip over. That is what you see in this picture.  Then, fry an egg and either soba or other noodles, and put the whole thing on that.  Flip over again and add sauce, nori, and eat!

M loves her "cheesu okanomiyaki!"

we got utensils (plates and ohashi). The authentic way to eat it is right off the spatula from the grill! But we didn't know that until a Japanese man ate his that way while we ate.


Deer on Miyajima island south and west of Hiroshima

mom and baby deer, dad and baby kids

we saw this family of monks...

the kids got momiji on a stick. Turns out it was fried fish paste and I got to eat M's since she didn't like it.

Me doing what I do best.  Raw oysters on the plate, cooked ones in the onigiri.

a slightly better pic of me, since I am not shoving food in my mouth.

N eating udon

M eating soba and Wendy eating fish

the kids (and me) were tired from the heat by the end of the day, and we still had a 2 hour train ride.


happy family

the only picture we took of Miajima.  The tori in the water is 16x24 meters!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012


We visited Hiroshima this weekend. We spent a couple hours on Saturday morning at the peace park, peace museum, and atomic bomb dome. It really makes you stop and think about war, its effects on people, the waste of money, effort, time, and humanity.

The park is beautiful, even in the pouring rain, and very somber. The museum is very well laid out and has a lot of information. The (very simplified) focus of the exhibition (to me, anyway) is to not place blame but to look inside their own society to discover what they did that resulted in the bombing, to forgive the aggression, to change their behaviors and outlook and to then work tirelessley to disarm the world of nuclear weapons.  An admirable goal, I think.

The thoughtfulness and introspection that I saw in the museum would be good for all of us to try.

I'll let that sink in and will update the blog about the rest of our weekend later.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


We went to Daitokuji, a collection of zen temples on the northwest side of Kyoto last weekend.  Some of the temples didn't allow photography but the last one we went do (Daisen-in) did. This temple is about 500 years old and if I remember correctly, it is mostly original buildings. The temple is surrounded by a lush bamboo and moss garden; it seems like you walked into an alien landscape when you enter the gate. The green completely surrounds you. It is very neat.
family shot on the entrance path (Poppy is visiting us!)

the entrance path always turns several times to make the journey seem longer--to make the transformation from your regular life to the life of the shrine more whole.

M walking along a path in the garden

one of several stone lanterns on the grounds

one of two tea houses

another lantern

This rock is from Korea and was hollowed out to make a wash basin.

a nice view of the moss, walkways, and tatami rooms

lots of sculpted trees

beautiful stone path

After the temple, we went to one of the oldest sweet shops in Kyoto, right near the temple complex.  These are little tiny mochi on a stick, grilled over a fire right outside and coated with a sweet syrup. Yum.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Kids art

Our kids have been doing art with our friend Atsuko once a month.  This past week they decorated tote bags.  And themselves...
the finished product
Thank you Atsuko! Wait, who is that on the left...
Groucho M.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

school visit day

I'm a bit behind on updating things. I finally downloaded some more pictures from last Sunday's parent school visit day.
This is M and one of her classmates. Gravity pulls a bit sideways here in Kyoto, apparently.

M teaching the class how to add 2 digit numbers. Apparently they spent 30-40 minutes on this problem.

M's picture of だんごむし (dango mushi, pill bug)

M dressed for PE!

M's spring egg picture

N learning to sew with his new sewing kit

N's rice plants (his are the tallest of the whole class)

N's "about me" poster

N's picture drawn using only triangles. Its a castle and several military aircraft

N's kanji.  I can't read the big kanji (the lower one might be nagai, long).  The left side says "5th year, ワグーナ・ナサニエル (his name in katakana) 

N counting to 10 in English as part of the English lesson.

and here are some movies of the day:

M's class doing their reading (hirigana, katakana and kanji)

N's class doing their English lesson

N leading the class in counting to 20

Monday, June 4, 2012

Coming home :(

I just picked up the departure form from KIT international affairs.  :(  We come home in 2 months.

In other news, this past Sunday the kids had school and it was open to the parents so that parents who worked could see the school. I took a few pictures of M's PE class. pretty cool.  If you want to see more pictures, check out my facebook page.
future HMC student?

This is M and her friend from Korea who just started at school in April. That is her first grade teacher helping out with PE.

The kids sang an English song... sort of...

N and I went all over the place yesterday (Monday) since they didn't have school (since they had school on Sunday) and we bought some gifts for friends. At one point, he was dying of hunger (nothing new there) and we just happened to be right next to the conveyer belt sushi place, so we stopped in  for a snack. N likes raw fish now!
Way to go N!  We love the conveyer belt Sushi place!