Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Kit Kat

One of the unique Kit Kat flavors we came across...not too bad either, but I wouldn't agree that it tasted like Ginger Ale

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I think I have finally discovered the perfect family vacation. One must travel with one or two other families with children of similar ages and leave the husbands behind. Okay, I realize that isn't fair, much less a 'family' vacation, but this is the first time I think I might return home and NOT feel like I need a vacation from my vacation. Jack stuck around for a couple of days before he had to return to work, but he can't complain as he was surrounded by 3 wonderful women lounging by the beach, dining by candlelight and swinging the racket out on the court.

Saipan is beautiful however I am not posting any photos because they would be like any tropical vacation photo - palm trees, white sandy beaches, sunburned bodies and turquoise blue waters. A little slice of heaven. Unlike my partners in crime I prefer to keep the sand between my toes, staring out to sea while they prefer to lounge by the pool. Anything goes while the 9 kids are at Camp Hyatt.

I am happy to report that halfway into our vacation there have been no trips to the emergency room, although I may have been better off saving this post until the end of the week. I am seriously considering deleting this and waiting until we return to Tokyo. Connor is sleeping too close to the edge of the bed - close enough to fall out and clip his head on the bedside table...

Sunday, October 11, 2009


We had to see Hakone before we left Japan as it is a must for anyone staying here for a significant period of time. Hakone is a hot spring town spanning across the collapsed remains of a huge volcano that was active 3 or 4 thousand years ago. The result? Many fun attractions including some interesting hot spring amusement as well as views of Mount Fuji. Because of our enormous family we couldn't get 1 Western style room, but we could get 1 Japanese style room. Upon entering our room the kids were quite confused. "Uh, Mom, where are the beds?" Ah, yes, the beds - "Why they are in the closet!" The Japanese style room is made of Tatami mats and we had futons for sleeping. The argument was not about which bed to sleep in, but where on the floor would they sleep. Five foutons filled the floor.

A wonderful place to visit is the Hakone Open Air Museum which was our first stop.

Just about everything is outside. Modern sculptures and creations from artists all over the world that allow the kids to run, climb, play and best of all - make noise!

They kids are all in there.

Run Connor Run!

This reminded me of the Chicago Millennium Park Bean - but smaller, and a ball, and suspended.

Woods of Net - Fantastic.

We couldn't get in there -but the kids could. They climbed in and out of those holes.

Such a happy place - although I will admit I heard our kids enthusiasm above everyone else's.

There was a mini Picasso museum. I took the kids through here in about 2 minutes. It was a quiet place with no touching.

The Symphonic Sculpture. Connor preferred not to climb the steps and stayed at ground level.

Connor found this sculpture on the map and couldn't wait to see it. He was then slightly disappointed and declared it was a woman with big boobs.

One of my favorites was the bronze sculpture face down in the grass off to the side.

Curved space

More climbing through these honeycomb spacelike spheres

We took a cable car up a mountain and transferred to a ropeway that carried us across the remains of a volcano filled with sulfurous steam vents. We did this twice in hopes to get a good view of Mount Fuji. There were no views on day one. Day two was a bit better.

Kate not enjoying the smelly air.

Well, we saw it. Off in the distance, not the clearest view, but it's there.

From the ropeway we took a boat across Lake Ashi.

Connor is there playing pirate between the bars.

For the kids, the highlight was Yunessun, something like a hot spring theme park. Before heading there we had to put on our special robes and lovely vinyl slippers.

Loving the outfits.

Yunessun is comprised of various hot springs inside and out. The first was a coffee bath. They actually put coffee into the hot spring. It smelled like coffee, but I can't say that it tasted like it. It was chilly outside, so it felt great.

The waterfall

The wine bath - red. The sign reads 'Do not drink' We missed the 'pouring of the wine' into the bath.

It looks like we have all been drinking from the hot spring.

The paths to each bath wind in and around the beautiful grounds.
The tea bath
Jack in the Green Tea bath

The rock bath
The sake bath - I didn't see a sign that said not to drink out of this bath.

There was a hot spring for everyone.

Nicholas headed down the slide into the warm bath
We missed out on the bath with fish that eat the dead skin off of your feet. That bath had a typical Japanese line that would have kept us there all morning. I think I'll just get a pedicure instead.

More tiny things...

I enjoyed the size of the restaurant orders, the tiny strips of paper lined up next to the grill. A closer look

And there was Jack's sake that the waiter poured until it pooled in the saucer below. We pondered whether or not he was supposed to consume the extra and how. We chose to ask the waiter, who of course spoke very little English. So Jack attempted conversing with the waiter using his charades of 'Do I sip it from the saucer?' No, the waiter laughed and motioned to pour the extra back into the cup. I am so glad we asked.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Typhoon Melor

It's Thursday and all the kids are home again, not because of flu or other illness, but because of the typhoon that passed over Japan last night and early today. We had snow days in Minneapolis, and now we face typhoon days in Tokyo. There was as much chatter about the impending storm as there usually is about a snow storm back home. The embassy sent out a letter warning people to have passports in hand, earthquake emergency kits available and contacts abroad.

I must admit that I am a little disappointed. Sure there was a lot of rain and large gusts of wind, but if I didn't know there was a typhoon in the neighborhood I would have just thought it to be a very windy and rainy day. Now there are beautiful clear blue skies (it's only 12:55PM), something we haven't seen for a while because of a string of rainy days. I had hoped to see more 'weather'. I kept checking the weather report thinking, 'That's it? That's all we are going to get?' It's not that I wanted anything bad to happen, just something more to convince me that cancelling school was in everyone's best interest. How about a late start?????

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Potty Talk Part 4

We tried a new restaurant in our neighborhood, Hona Azabu, Teppanyaki -- yum. But the had a light. The bowl lit up. Who really needs to see what they are leaving behind? And the flusher? A little complicated, but I figured it out. It looked like a 'push in', but it was really a 'flipper'. On the counter next to the sink there were various business cards and flyers, a container of toothpicks and a container of cotton swabs, black - all black - the whole thing. I googled it. They are manufactured by a Japanese company and have been a big hit here as they apparently allow you to see the earwax more clearly. And you thought I had nothing else to say about the Japanese bathrooms.