Hello all! Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying their beginning of fall. It is finally cooling off here slightly. It gets into the high 80s and 90s still during the day and the humidity, well, we do live on an island… but at night it cools off enough that the last couple of nights I have opened the windows upstairs while we sleep, and it has been glorious. The fresh air is amazing, and the breeze, oh my. Only problem is that the noises echo so loudly between all the brick buildings so close together, I just know its being amplified. And the idiots on the motorcycles race up and down the street all night, revving their engines and going waaaay faster than they should. Will wake you up from a dead sleep it’s so loud…so its a toss-up.. breeze and fresh air or less sleep :) But, I am still thankful that it is cooling off!
The Gus is doing good in school. He seems to like it a lot. We had some trouble with the other boys at first (there are only 5 other boys in Alex’s class, and he is the only new boy) but after a lot of discussions and coaxing, and the purchase of some new Japanese Pokemon chips, he is not sitting alone at lunch and is being included in the playing at recess. He is content and happy with that, so we will be too. He is really enjoying his Japanese class, which is one of his specials this year. He can write his name in Katakana and is learning his Kanji numbers and even doing math problems with it! He really seems to like his teacher, which is good. I think that it’s a really good time for him to have his first male teacher, and Mr. Mayer seems very kind and quite funny.
I kind of wanted to take this post to talk about what we have been doing over the last few weeks, so there will be lots of pics and explaining of them :) Please enjoy!
A few weeks ago I went with my girlfriend Lori to a Brazilian festival. There is a very large Brazilian population here in Japan (I have actually been confused as a Brazilian and been spoken to in spanish on more than one occasion. Me. And I’m albino…) and we have run into Brazilian days and street festivals a few times. But to backtrack, Lori and I took the boys to a pool a few weeks ago and had a blast. But while we were there, Lori and her son (in the baby pool) made friends with a couple of women from Brazil. We didn’t know at the time they were brazilian, we just knew they weren’t Japanese (they were in string bikinis, and Japanese women wear long sleeve zip front hooded swim shirts or other such coverings). Anyhow, as we were leaving, the women stopped to speak with us, and we talked about life in Japan and then we were invited to come watch them Samba dance at this festival! We said we would try to make it, and parted ways. Since the festival was kind of late on a weeknight, just us girls went. I am so glad we did!
Here you can see their elaborate costumes, with the wings and headdresses. Beautiful.
Here I am with the girl from the pool. I look a hot mess, but it was a million degrees and the street was so crowded. It verged on miserably hot lol. But she was very nice, and she remembered meeting us! It turned out, she is the teacher of the Samba dancing here in Nagoya and has her own school. Very fun!
The rest of the festival was fun too. This is a traditional Japanese kids game/snack at festivals. It’s a bamboo shoot with water flowing and they send noodles down the water, then the kids pick them out with their chopsticks and put them in a cup, and then eat them. Kids seem to really enjoy this. I enjoyed watching them.
Here you can see a jazz band. Yepp, Jazz. They played so well, and it was really cool to listen and watch. You can see the open case out front, this was the first (and probably last) time that I ever tipped anyone. There is no tipping here in Japan, at restaurants or with bell hops or valets or anything. None. Very different.
Here is a group that performed some traditional japanese dance. It was so hot, and they were in long linen pants and jackets. They did remove the jackets as part of a “costume change” mid way through their performance.
That is all from the Brazilian festival :)
I just giggled at this. There are so many hair studios here, it’s almost crazy. But I don’t know if I would get a trim at a place named Bee M’s :)
Here, we were at Higashiyama again, and if you look closely, you will see that the people have buckets of water. They were pouring out the water with ladles onto the ground. Some kind of Japanese something I suppose. But we see stuff we don’t understand like this regularly. :)
Here was my favorite stand in Mitsukoshi Depato. These are hand painted traditional Japanese lanterns. They are magnificent, and not cheap. I will be buying one before we leave as a souvenir (if anyone else is interested, let me know). The ones that were a little more expensive (talking $200-300 instead of $100-200) stand about 2 feet high and they are double layered. The inside rice paper is painted with an iconic Japanese image, say Mt. Fuji-san or the temple in Kyoto or something, and when illuminated, you can see the intricacies and the detail of the inner paper, so beautiful…
I don’t know if you can tell what this is from the picture either, but this was Alex’s favorite thing at Mitsukoshi on the food floor. This is hand blown sugar in the form of a dragon. It says $315, but I don’t think it’s really for sale. The guy was very sweet and gave Alex a free taste and we watched him a little. So of corse I had to buy Gus some Lollies :)
This was an orchid display in a gardening shop. I have never seen orchids like this in all the colors and styles. I love orchids, and if you know me you know for some reason I can grow them fantastically. But this display really reminded me of our neighbor in Evansville, Veronica. She shares my love of orchids as well :) If I had a way to transport it home to USA safely, I definitely would buy some…
Here you can see small children in traditional Japanese Kimono. You see them dressed like this all the time, I think it is adorable. Sometime when we are not in a hurry and I can find a willing victim, I will ask for a proper picture so I can share how adorable these kids are :)
Haha this is my favorite. A couple of weeks ago on my way to Lori’s I saw them preparing for some construction outside of Mitsukoshi. If you look carefully in this image, you will see a man standing between the second and third white covered base. He is handing a pole up to the white hard-hat on the second level, who in turn will hand it up, and so on in order to build the scaffolding… It was so comical to witness! We have to explain to people back home all the time how our perception of Japan as this advanced “mecca” is not as accurate as one would think! :)
Ah, here was another adventure. One day on a hunt for the store Tokyu Hands and a baking dish, Lori and I decided to try a small mexican restaurant for lunch. These were our nachos. Looks well enough, only the red on the chips you see is not salsa, nor taco or enchilada sauce. Its ketchup. Ketchup and cheese nachos. Not yummy :)
This picture is from SnT, which is a large fresh fish market and frozen goods store very close to our house. We watched them carving this enormous fish for a while. They even were giving samples of it, and packaging it how the customer wanted (steaks, sushi slices, etc). Does sushi get fresher?? I very badly wish I could have tried some :( But the size of this fish was enormous. I don’t know that the picture does it justice, but I do know it was longer than Alex is tall, and the head was huge (it was on display, I won’t gross you out with it tho!)
This was another fun evening (and another Brazilian celebration). We went out to Sakai for dinner on a Friday evening. After eating and drinking our fill (I had a delicious fresh mango smoothie), Alex desperately wanted to find the source of the Laser. What young boy wouldn’t! So we walked a few blocks and found the pyramid it was emitting from, and in the picture I am standing at the base of it. You can see it lining up over the sculpture and then beaming directly onto the Nagoya TV tower in the distance. Well, how could we deny Alex the chance to see both ends of the Laser!
This picture is as high as we could go in the TV Tower. The laser is hitting a point higher than us, but we still had a wonderful time admiring the views of Nagoya in the night time atmosphere.
And here is Alex, posing as Godzilla with a picture of the Nagoya TV Tower. And yes, we will continue to be hot, sweaty messes in all of our pictures as long as it continues to be a million degrees and humid. :)
I got my first ticket :( For parking my bicycle in a paid bicycle parking spot. Oops!! I won’t park there again :)
I talk a lot to people about food, but this was an excellent example. I posted a picture on Facebook of the fruit salad I made a couple of weekends ago, and how it was so very expensive.. Well, as you can see, this tiny package of raspberries is $9.80… Most fruit isn’t quite this expensive, but berries and melons are (we have seen watermelons for $50.00). Apples and oranges (Ringo’s and Mikan’s) are usually $1.50-$2.50 each. Yes, each. Anyone who wants to feed us fruit when we are home for Christmas is an Angel :)
And lastly, updated picture of the little guppy. You can see baby’s face in this pic, and arms up by baby’s head. :) I will get an ultrasound each month at my appointments, which is awesome, and also different from back home.
I think that’s all for today. I am hoping to get Alex to give everyone a guided tour of our home here in Japan very soon so I can post the video for everyone to see :) Miss you all, and God Bless America!