Monday, March 31, 2008

Random Pictures around Town

A cemetery. We have several of these in our neighborhood, and they usually belong to one family. They always have fresh flowers and are so beautiful.

Ume mentos. Ume is a sour plum flavor, with just the slightest hint of salt. Will not be buying again.

The baby-holder in the bathroom. You can safely secure your baby while you take care of business!

A beauty "dessert" of fresh strawberries and pineapple. The tagline is "Makes you feel beautiful". No wonder why Japanese people live so long!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Silly boy

Cash's newest obsession is taking something from our front rooms and hiding them in the back rooms. He does it so quietly and secretly. One minute, he'll be sitting next to us quietly playing. All of a sudden, he practically runs out the door with something in his hand that he desperately has to tuck away into the most random spot he can find. Case in point: Fox found a spatula in his pants' drawer this morning. Last night, there was a teddy bear in the bathub, and my cinnamon jar at the bottom of the laundry basket. A few days ago, I opened Cash's clothes drawer to find a large stash of very bent UNO cards.

We caught him in the act yesterday morning as he was trying to hide two spoons he had grabbed off the table (he is a tall one!).

I wasn't hiding them, honest!

I was eating off 'em!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Swings and Sushi

Spring is here! It was so warm yesterday, so we went to the park with our friends. We told them we had yet to eat sushi in Japan, so afterwards they took us to their favorite kaiten zushi (conveyor-belt sushi) place.
Fox and I on the kids' rope:

Cash stands in awe of the older kids going down the big slide. He's wearing Kizzia's strawberry vest, since we forgot his coat.

The famous fugu sushi. Fugu is pufferfish, and if it's not prepared properly, you'll die. One bit of poison can kill a grown man in half an hour. You need a special license to prepare it. It's a big deal to try it here and say that you survived eating the notorious fugu.

Fox eats and survives! I'm so proud of him, because he doesn't even like raw fish. He was a great sport.

The sushi place was neat, because you just sat down next to a conveyor belt and took what you wanted. Anything with Japanese mayo is good to me! Fox loved the grilled eel. At the end of the meal, the waiter comes and counts your plates, which are around $1 each.
Counting it up:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sayonara, Elder Fukuda!

Elder Fukuda served in our branch from August until this last week, when he was transferred. We've gotten to know him well and have had him over for dinner at least a couple of times a month since we moved here. He has seen Cash grow from a sitter to a crawler to a walker! Cash really loves him.
So, Sayonara, Fukuda-chodo. We'll miss your humor and magic tricks!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Hina Matsuri

March 3rd is Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival), or Girls' Day, in Japan. On this day, families pray for the health, growth and happiness of their daughters. Special dolls, called hina ningyo, are displayed in homes with daughters to bring good luck to the household. Hina dolls are very expensive and not many people can afford them. Traditionally, it is the grandmother who presents a young girl with her own set of hina dolls. Since they are so expensive, a large set of dolls displayed in the home is wonderful to behold. We were able to go to a Hina Matsuri Festival, which was actually an Utazu city-walk to view the hina dolls of the local residents. There were 96 homes displaying their dolls. We only made it to 29!
Here is a full set of hina dolls. There is a special formation to the dolls. The emperor and empress are at the top, with their court on the lower levels. Seven levels is considered the most lucky.

The empress wears many, many kimonos!

Japanese girl scouts working on their dolls!

This is Fox's student Koyama-san, who took us to the festival. They are in front of someone's home.

We ran into Toshiko, another of Fox's students, who treated us to mochi and rice cakes!

Here we are in front of our favorite home of the day:

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Thanks, Mom!

It's been two weeks since we got a box from my mom, and we still can't get over how much she packed into it! It was so amazing. The cheapest way to ship internationally is by using an International Flat Rate box, which costs $37 to ship up to 20 pounds. My mom says the box was 14 pounds...but I really think she was pushing the 20 mark.
Here is the box:

and here are the goods:

Amazing, right? I even left out a large can of green chiles! The one box contained: 2 birthday presents for Cash, 6 children's books, 1 bag of chocolate chips, 2 bars of chocolate and 2 handfuls of dark chocolate and mints, a box of vitamins, 3 large bags of Valentine's card and candy, a big bag of pencils, 5 magazines and four Guidepost magazines, 2 boxes of bouillon and probably much more than I'm leaving out! Thank you, mama!