Archive | March, 2008

花見

30 Mar

Today we went to a park not far from our house for 花見 (“Cherry Blossom Viewing”).

Cherry Blossom Viewing has been a Japanese tradition for centuries. The Cherry Blossom (or 桜 (“Sakura”) as it’s known in Japanese) is as Japanese as Apple Pie is American.

Every Spring, when the Sakura bloom, Japanese people have picnics under the Sakura trees (as I mentioned in the “Sakura” post below).

We had sandwiches, takoyaki, fried squid, and beer (of course, the kids had juice) under the trees. They were very beautiful. I took a few pictures and attached some to this post.

Before we got to the park, we passed a gas station and noticed a Buddist priest pumping gas into his car.

This caught my attention, not only because you don’t often see Buddist priests at gas stations, but also because “Self-serve” gas stations are new to Tokyo. They all used to be “full-serve”…with four or five attendants pumping your gas, checking your oil and tires, and washing your wind shield. Then helping direct you back into traffic.

So I took this picture:

Buddist priest puming gas.

At the Sakura festival, there was a stage that had some people doing a tradional Japanese festival dance. I took a short video of it and uploaded it to YouTube.

It’s the first time I’ve ever uploaded a video to YouTube.

Are you able to watch the video? Let me know.

Here are some of the photos I took:

sakura1.jpg sakura2.jpg

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Recent weekends

29 Mar

Do you know that you can click on all of the “thumbnail” size photos on this blog to see it in full-size?

A couple weekends ago, we decided to look around the Tokyo University campus.

We’ve been in the university’s area many times, but this was the first time we walked onto the campus.

Have you ever heard of Tokyo University? It’s an “Ivy League” school like Harvard or Oxford? When we visited Boston years ago, we checked out Harvard’s campus…just out of curiosity. And that’s why we went to 東大 (“Todai”…the common abbreviation of Tokyo University’s name in Japanese (which is 東京大学 “Tokyo Daigaku”)).

It’s a large, beautiful campus.

Tokyo University’s soccer field…and some of their buildings in the background. Tokyo University 三四郎池 (Sanshirou-ike)

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The weekend before that, we went to 東武動物公園 (Tobu-zoo), north of Tokyo.

It’s a very nice zoo / amusement park! They have many rides, roller coasters, a ferris wheel, etc that the kids love…as well as a very nice zoo! And there’s a dog-park…where you can sit and hold and play with any of the numerous dogs there. We don’t have any pets at home…so my kids love that part of the zoo (my wife and I do, as well)!

Here’s a picture of the ferris wheel:

ferris.jpg

And I took this picture of the roller coaster as my kids were riding it. It was a very fast roller coaster! It looked like torture to me…but they wanted to ride it again (the line was too long, though)!

roller coaster…my kids were riding it!

The hippo’s lunch time:

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And this is a “Lesser-Panda”. They are very popular in Japan…because they’re cute—and one was seen standing upright at Ueno Zoo a couple years ago…it was on the news.

lesser-panda

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Today is Saturday. The weather is nice and and it’s warm. So my youngest is at the park with her friends…and my oldest daughter took the train with her friend into downtown Tokyo to go shopping!

I recently have been allowing her to take the train with her friends…but always to go somewhere close. Today was the first time I allowed her to go that far. Her and her friend are going to a part of the city popular with teenagers.

I have to let them grow up…I guess.

Anyways…me and the second daughter are about to go to the local library together now.

Sakura

29 Mar

桜 (Sakura) or “Cherry blossoms” are in blossom now in the Tokyo area.

桜

Sakura are very important to the Japanese. They are a beautiful but fragile flower that is only in bloom for a short period every year (the warmer the climate, the earlier they bloom. Sakura in Okinawa blossom in January…but not til about June in Hokkaido (northern Japan)). For this reason, Sakura represents the fragility and beauty of life, that must be appreciated before it’s over.

When the Sakura are in blossom in Japan, people go to 花見 (Hanami) or “Cherry Blossom viewing”. At a Hanami, people put a sheet down under the trees and have a picnic together and appreciate the view.

Years ago, Japan gave Sakura trees to a number of American cities as a sign of friendship. And in places like Washington DC and Philadelphia now they have “Hanami” parties like in Japan.

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Anyways…

the school year is now over in Japan. Here, the school year (and the fiscal business year) is from April to March.

So, in April, my kids will all start a new school-year.

Yokohama

28 Mar

We (me, my wife, and our three kids) went to Yokohama recently.

Yokohama’s the second biggest city in Japan (after Tokyo), and it’s located close enough to Tokyo to often be considered part of the Tokyo general area.

Yokohama’s the largest city in Kanagawa Prefecture, about 45 minutes south of metropolitan Tokyo by train.

We’ve been to Yokohama many times…but this was the first time in awhile.

We went to Yokohama Station (usually we’d go to Ishikawacho or Sakuragicho Station) and walked around. First, we walked around the Yokohama Station area then we wandered over to the Sakuragicho area and went to the 赤レンガ倉庫 (“Red Brick Warehouse” shopping center).

In the warehouse, we found a nice furniture store and bought three desks. One for each of our daughters.

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Yokohama has alot to see a do.

Here’s a quick list off of the top of my head of places in the Yokohama area:

  • Cosmo World Amusement Park
  • Landmark Tower (The tallest building in Japan. Has an observation deck on the 69th floor)
  • Hard Rock Cafe Yokohama
  • 赤レンガ倉庫 (Red Brick Warehouse (shopping center))
  • 山下公園 (Yamashita Park)
  • Marine Tower
  • 横浜中華街 (Yokohama Chinatown)
  • Museum Of Cultural History
  • Maritime Museum
  • Doll Museum
  • “An-Pan-Man” Museum (museum and shops dedicated to the popular Japanese children’s cartoon)
  • Tattoo Museum
  • Ramen Museum
  • Curry Museum
  • Yokohama Hakkejima Sea Paradise
  • 横浜動物園 (Yokohama Zoo)
  • 野毛山動物園 (Nogeyama Zoo (it’s free))
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New blog

26 Mar

I was unhappy when I tried to upload new photos to my old website and found that I had used all the alloted memory!

So, I decided to abandon that site (I really didn’t want to) and just go with a simpler, standard ‘blog site…so here it is.

I’ll add a few photos to it…but it won’t have as many as the other had. And, I’m sure you’ve noticed (if you’ve ever seen my old site), that there’s alot less pages.

I’ll add a few pages to this site, though…when I have time.

Anyways…please comment on the posts I add to this site.

torii