Tuesday, December 9, 2008


The crazy pigeons were happy to perch on your arm, shoulder or head. See the quick clip below. This was a highlight for the kids. Forget the history lesson.
The Big Buddha 2nd largest in Japan

There were so many little girls in Kimono - each one so beautiful. We couldn't figure out what the ceremony was for but they loved getting their picture taken.

When I first considered taking Jack up on the move to Tokyo my fear was the big city - drowning among all the people. I lived in Chicago for 7+ years, but we had our neighborhoods that kept it small. In Tokyo I was anxious about getting around on the trains packed with people. I sometimes suffer from a bit of claustrophobia in crowded situations - weak knees, fear of blacking out, sweating and so on. How would I survive this? I was pleasantly surprised to find out that most of the time the trains are not packed, not even full unless of course you are travelling during rush hour. Those hours I am still a little unclear about - 8, 9, 12, 5, 7? In any case I can find a seat eventually or at least space to grab a hanger. The kids always freak out if there are not 4 seats in a row for me to sit next to all of them (I realize this is not possible with two sides of me and 3 children, just another reason 2 is easier than 3) - usually there is an argument and a tantrum during those times. The Japanese often move for us, or away from us.

We did have one unforgettable train experience. We were warned. It can get really busy at some of the tourist spots on the weekends, especially when there is a Japanese holiday involved. Jack's parents were visiting and we took a day trip to Kamakura to see the Big Buddha. Once in Kamakura we had to take a smaller train to get to the area where the Buddha sat. There were lines to get on this train. We watched as the train attendant literally pushed people in so he could close the door. Their bags and faces were smashed into the glass. Then it was our turn. Because we were the first to get on we were pushed back, back, back. Connor and Nick started to cry and scream, "Mommy, help!!!' I was afraid that the boys would be stepped on. Somehow I got them close to me but had no room to pick them up off the floor. I had to assume Jack had Kate and that his parents were on there somewhere. Although I had no where to fall, I also had nothing to hold on to, so this guy that we were talking to on the platform, a University student, put his arm around me to give me some leverage. This train torture lasted about 4 minutes. For the record, this trip was not my idea.

Here are those wild birds at the Shrine. A little creepy if you ask me.

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