Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cash's Clothes

With the weather turning colder, we've had to get some new clothes for Cash. We get such a kick out of baby-clothes shopping in Japan, since we find so many random Engrish sayings on them. Fox and I try to find clothes with funny sayings, and then poor Cash usually ends up wearing them. I just bought him a green sweatshirt with a skull on it, only to find the back says "Nice going, girl. Your hometown Meg is cute and love." Another winner is his shirt that says "Mommy and baby dinosaur friend. Is it delicious?"
Below is one of my favorites. It's a very seventies-ish velour jumpsuit that conjures up the image of John Travolta in "Staying Alive" when he does his, that's right, swaying walk!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Our Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving was Friday, Japan's Thanksgiving (or Labor) Day. We got the day off, but there was no turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, or pumpkin pie to be found. So, instead, we decided to do some sightseeing with the Morimura's. It was so nice of them to take us out, since we still don't know how to get to many places. Our first stop was Ritsurin Park, one of the most famous historical parks in Japan--it dates back to 1625!
A view at the entrance of the park:

I loved this orange bridge:

Can you guess who the gaizin is in this picture? Note my lovely expression as I taste a sakura An-Dango (cherry-blossom rice flour dumpling--definitely an acquired taste!) Also note little vampire baby's expression, having been wheeled into direct sunlight:

Cash enjoys the ride:

After the trip to Ritsurin Park, we made our way to Yoshima. Yosima is a sight-seeing island along the Seto-Ohashi bridge. It is inbetween Shikoku Island and Honshu Island. Apparently, when the bridge was finished twenty years ago, so many people wanted to visit the island each day that it would lock up one lane of traffic on the bridge for the whole day. The bridge costs around 4000 yen to cross, so imagine how frustrating it would be if you spent that and ended up having to just sit in your car on the bridge all day because the island was too crowded.
Every ten minutes or so, a beautiful touring boat would stop outside the restaurant where we were eatting. It was sort of sad to only see a handful of people getting on and off at one time. If you didn't want to go sightseeing on the boat, the island also offered tours on a helicopter. We opted for neither as Fox is not a big fan of either flying or boating. The main attraction to the island was basically the Fisherman's Wharf, where you could dine or shop to your hearts content (unless you happen to be a gaizin with a weak stomach - then you just shop).
The Ellis Family at Yoshima

The one thing we were thankful for this year: Lots of warm sunshine!!! Enjoy your snow AMERICA!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Zentsuji Temple

Last Monday, we went to the Zentsuji Temple with our friends, the Jensen's. Zentsuji is the birthplace of Kōbō Daishi (弘法大師), a Japanese monk who founded the Shingon sect of Buddhism. He also founded the 88 Temple Pilgrimage. Zentsuji is about fifteen minutes away. The temple grounds are beautiful and a popular tourist spot. If you go at closing, you can hear the monks praying in the temple.
Here is the famous five story pagoda:

This statue is among hundreds of various statues representing different gods. He's my favorite!

Tourism on sacred ground:

The ancient Buddha:

In front of that temple ( I know, Cash is way too big for his sling now!):

These stones represent each temple on the 88 temple circuit. There is a pathway around the stones, so that you can have your own mini-pilgrimage!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Tagged by Laris

Here's how it works:
A. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning.
B. Each player lists 6 little-known facts/habits about themselves.
C. At the end of the post, the player then tags 6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.
New rule: If you are reading this and don't have a blog but you see your name at the bottom of this post, then you have to leave a comment that lists 6 things about you!

Okay, this is Amy responding. Fox will jump on later. Let's see...

6 Facts/Habits:

1.) I have kept a journal since kindergarten and now have about 25 journals filled with my ramblings. I also keep a journal for my son.

2.) I believe going through yellow lights is good luck (but red lights are bad--don't run through them)!

3.) I am terrifed of ostriches. I think they will bite my hand off.

4.) I love zombie movies. I see almost every one that comes out, and I think they are all hilarious, especially Slither. I am not afraid of zombies...but I might be if I ever met one.

5.) In college, I started crocheting a blanket and made about 180 granny squares, which took about a year. I never got around to sewing the squares together and eventually just threw all the squares away. Don't even ask me about all the other craft projects I've started but haven't finished. I am working on a 100 flower scarf pattern right now. Wish me luck!

6.) It took me thousands of dollars in student loans, seven majors, and five years of school to figure out that what I actually want to do (be a doula) doesn't require a college degree. Thanks, college career advisment center!

Okay, you've been tagged: Meghann, Bren, Cassie, Scott, Mom, and Jessie

Friday, November 9, 2007

Fukuoka Zoo

When the two of us went to the Fukuoka temple, Amy and I ended up having to take turns watching our son while the other was going through the temple. I went through first so that Amy could feed Cash and put him down for a little nap. When I got out, Amy went in, and Cash and I went looking for trouble. Luckily, we found that the zoo in Fukuoka is literally right next door to the temple.

The zoo only cost 400 yen ($3.60) and has an enormous botanical garden attached to it. Cash and I decided that we would stick to the zoo, since we only had a little bit of time. The quality of the zoo was just a little sad. Some of the smaller animals were in small, wet, concrete cages with the occasional log or rope strung across it. Larger animals like the great cats, birds of prey, and African animals had very nice facilities though. We saw some animals that I had never even heard of before (and I watch Discovery).
The most amazing thing about the Fukuoka zoo was that there wasn't really any separation between the cages and you. I was literally an arm's length away from a 500 pound tiger that paced beautifully in front of me. Cash stared at everything, but he showed particular fascination with the birds of prey. He whimpered when I started to walk away from the Kites, so we ended up lingering there for around eleven minutes. He loves birds.

We ended the visit with a stop by the monkeys because I figured that Cash would get a laugh out of them. He did, but it ended up being more of a treat for me. Remember that I said that you are ridiculously-close to the animals cages. The monkeys would come right up to the edge of there cages and stare at you or climb around you. The zookeepers had posted signs that said not to feed the monkeys anything (complete with a cartoon of a scowling monkey holding an aching belly), but there didn't seem to be anything that said not to touch them. I reached my arm out to wave at one of the Diana Monkeys and it reached its hand out too! The monkey gave me a high five! Everyone around us was saying "Tugoi!" (cool), and Cash was giggling. The same thing happened with the Lion-tailed Macaques. The monkeys loved to slap my hand and tug on my fingers. I was very careful not to reach too far, because I didn't want them to be able to pull my hand into their mouths. The whole thing was really neat. I couldn't stop laughing.

We left the monkeys and headed for the exit down a long set of stairs. I guess that the whole day had taken a toll on Cash because by the time we reached the bottom, he was fast asleep. It was the first time he had ever fallen asleep upright in my arms. Good good day.

Cash and me in front of a Japanese native animal called the Tanuki or "Raccoon Dog" with a close up below that. This is one of the unfortunate cages that was really just concrete.

The whole time we were there, this tiger just paced back and forth in front of us. And by "in front of us" I mean "so-close-that-I-had-to-remind-myself-
that-I-could- lose-a-hand-if-I-tried-to-touch-it,-but-when-

Yes, the monkey washed his hand after handling the human. Don't worry about his safety.

Some animals I had never even heard of before:

This is called a Tapir. It's like a mix between a baby hippo and a baby elephant, but it's fully-grown. I'm pretty sure Tigers eat them.

These are both of a strange animal called a Biturang. It looks like a bushy-tailed badger, but it moves like a monkey. Tigers could eat that too.

I forget, is it "Tiger" or "Tigar" or "Tigger (I saw that one too)"?

Here is an Emperor Penguin (I had heard of it before, I'm just including it with animals I hadn't heard of before because I have never really seen one on real life, and that's close enough). Yeah, Tigers would so eat that, it's just too much effort to go all the way to Antarctica for them.


A Loaf Story

Lately, I have been reading a lot of food blogs and tons of them mention a recipe for No Knead Bread. Well, I got a craving for homemade bread. I actually love kneading dough and don't have the patience for a 20 hour rising time, so I made a plan old white loaf tonight. The most PERFECT loaf ever--it rose beautifully, and the texture was perfect. I popped the loaf pan into our combination microwave/oven with eager anticipation. Surely, if it looked so beautiful going in, it would be amazing coming out, right? Wrong. The bread had risen to perfection, but alas, our oven is the size of a microwave (actually, it IS a microwave). My perfect loaf ended up completely burnt on the outside, as it was almost touching the roof of the oven, and completely gooey on the inside after fifteen minutes in the oven. So, I am missing a regular size oven tonight. There goes my hopes of an angel food cake for breakfast...I mean, birthdays.

Here is our sad little oven. On the upside, it's a great microwave. If you press the orange button, your food will be nuked until it's hot and ready, thanks to a nifty little heat sensor.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I will stop myself from making a "handful of Cash" joke! Here are a few recent pics of Cash. He has just recently mastered standing up and is so proud of himself! He is such a happy, pleasant baby and gets to be more and more fun every day. His favorite things now are: eating off of mommy's plate, attempting to wave, biting things that shouldn't be bitten, pulling up on things that shouldn't be pulled up on, and unplugging the drain stopper in the bathtub as soon as he gets in the tub. We are loving it!

Look at me!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Our Temple Trip

On Saturday, we were able to make a trip to the Fukuoka temple with our branch. Our branch goes to the temple six times a year. It was Culture Day, so we had the day off. We left at midnight and got to Fukuoka around 7 a.m. We went with our boss to cut costs, as it costs around $100 to cross the bridge off of Shikoku island (one way!), and there are numerous toll highways along the way. It was a fun trip. Fox and I took turns watching Cash and going to a session. It was so nice to be off of Shikoku island and to see some different sights. We even got to go to Costco, where we found oatmeal, beans, tortilla chips, and macaroni and cheese. Hooray!

Here is a picture of the Fukuoka temple. It's a mini-temple in downtown Fukuoka.

This is Steve, another teacher at our school, and his wife, Sachiko. They got married in the Fukuoka temple about a month ago.

Sunset at the junction of the islands:

The Kanmon bridge, which connects Kyushu and Honshu. Nearby, there is also a highway tunnel that goes under the sea!

Along the way, we stopped at several rest areas, which we were very impressed with. Each rest area had huge, nice bathrooms, several restaurants, and even cribs for babies! In the parking lot, families and truck drivers were sound asleep in their cars. The ladies' bathrooms had individual vanity stations, fresh flowers, and toilets that had "flushing sound" volume control buttons, for those people who like a quiet flushing sound. I love Japan!