Sunday, August 31, 2014

Goodbyes, Good food, and Godzilla

So, just getting back to the blog after an unexpected trip to the U.S. due to the passing of my sweet Nana.
Here she is--

Love you permanently, Nana!  Miss you infinitely...

With the cousins after the funeral.


In the Narita, Tokyo Airport--crazy Japanese shop.

Flying home on a 787, there was a button for tinting the windows, 
instead of lowering the shade.  

Magic Japanese commode--very practical use of advanced technology.  
Even plays music. . .

We took a trip out in search of noodles on this brightly-lit street--

Found some!

Passed on the Happy Meal.  Don't think it would make the kids very happy.

Plastic cake a la mode.  LOVE the Plastic Arts!

Shopping on the way home. . .tempting stuff. . .

The Strange Snacks Aisle--

Octopus tentacles. . .What do you think?  
How do you cook that??

Good smell. Good curry.

We ran into Godzilla then ran away from him.

Willa was NOT afraid.

Ended on a cultural note with some shiny sculpture.

And a large fish tale.  
Loving this crazy adventure.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Adventures in Getting Lost

Adventures in Getting Lost

They say the best way to learn one's way around a new city is to get lost in it.  I beg to differ.  Last Thursday, I set out from the apartment (running late, of course) to attend a briefing at the Embassy.  Typically a 10-minute walk at most.  I had been to and from the Embassy several times and I was confident in my ability to find my way. I went out the correct gate, nodded to the guard, and started walking in what I thought was the right direction (not).  

Since most signs are in Japanese (or Chinese) characters, the scenery all kind of runs together.  I don't read characters and they just look like calligraphy to me.  Soon, however, I noticed that NOTHING looked familiar.  I didn't see the landmarks of the Franciscan Church or the statue of the Buddha or the French restaurant--only signs, signs, and more signs.  At that point I knew that at the very least I was going to be late and that I would quite possibly wander the streets of Tokyo for the rest of my life.  I considered going back home, but, unfortunately at that point I had no idea which way that might be. 

I had no cell phone.  No taxi cards.  Nothing to help me get anywhere.  Woefully unprepared.  So, flustered, I figured I would take my chances and hail a taxi, which I did (luckily first time, since it was raining.)  "US Embassy?" I said.  The driver looked at me blankly.  "America?  American Embassy?"  Nothing.  So, I looked at my Embassy badge and on the back it said, in English and Japanese, "If found, please return to the U.S. Embassy, Tokyo."  I showed it to him and smiled.  He laughed.  He had found this lost American woman and his instructions were to return her to the U.S. Embassy. We had somehow communicated.  

As he drove me there (seemingly in circles), I was still shaken and not thinking straight and so began to think that I did not have enough money to even pay for the fare.  It said 720 ($7.20 USD).  I had 4000 yen, but I thought that was only $4 (it's actually $40, so I was good.)  I had horrible visions of arriving without enough money to pay him and offering him my miserable $4.00 for taxi fare.  I figured, worst case scenario I would ask him to wait while I went and got money from Michael. After I calmed down a bit, I realized that I actually had plenty of $ to cover the fare.  In the end I paid him $10 to drive me about 1/2 a mile.  Probably one of the more expensive taxis I have taken, but definitely worth it!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Figuring things out

Figuring things out

Monday morning early the air shipment arrived.  Let the chaos begin.  8 large boxes of "stuff" that we thought we needed right away.  Just when we had gotten the suitcases unpacked. . .

Why did we send hula hoops again?        

Yea, I guess we'll keep her. . .

Manon is not impressed.  She didn't get much air shipment since by the time the packers got to her room, our 800lb allotment was already taken up.  We were all feeling guilty.  Love you Manon!

Intricate fort built out of all of the huge moving boxes.  It had a door with a handle, two floors and everything.  Enjoy it while you can, kids, 'cause it's going in the trash next week!  
But which trash bin??  Now that's a good question!

Speaking of trash, this paralyzes me:

Instructions for cardboard milk carton disposal--wash out, cut open, and lay flat.  Fun times.   We just may go native and stop drinking milk.

Best dang $4 spent on flowers ever in my life.  They've lasted a week and are still going strong.  Why do lilies remind me of Asia?  Oh, because that is the only place I buy them.  The smell is intoxicating. . .

A Room With a View

View of Tokyo from the guest room.  Note the elevated highway in the background.

Japanese graveyard in the middle there.  
Willa is none to pleased that this is HER view.

These are our funky Embassy Housing apartment buildings.  

The buildings are nice inside, kind of Post Modern Art Deco on the outside. Reminds me of a Mondrian painting, actually.

Voila, comme ca--

Here is our guest room for when you all come to visit.  
We promise to put a bed in there before you get here. . . 

LOVE, love, love the green space, huge trees, koi ponds, and picturesque bridges.

Very picturesque and our compound is amazingly quiet for being in the center of Tokyo.  So fortunate to live in such a beautiful place!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Exploring Tokyo!


We finally got out to explore Tokyo after working on getting things settled at home.  First meal out=McDonald's.  Adventurous, right?  Thought we'd ease the kids into Japanese culture.  

McDonald's is always good for having interesting variations on old favorites in different countries.  Here is a picture of a chicken sandwich with some kind of applesauce topping.  
Yum (not)!

     Perplexed. . . 

But at least they have good old Happy Meal Toys--Supersized!

Ordering. . .um. . .they don't speak English (at McDonalds?).  Lots of sign language and pointing.

Willa is happy with her bacon cheeseburger after wiping off the (very strange) special sauce.

And an Oreo Blizzard makes everyone happy.

 Seen on the way home--Vending Machines EVERYWHERE!  
If you go thirsty in Japan, it's your own dang fault (or you forgot your wallet.)

Random street scene with random dude.

Random street scene with Griffin and Michael.

Groovy Japanese store selling strange, but colorful stuff.

To get a child's perspective on Japan (not just my childish one), visit Willas Blog!