April 23, 2008

Pre-Golden Week Grabbag

We are coming up on the long holiday week (woo hoo! Golden Week!), when we will be traveling to Hiroshima/Miyajima, and Tokyo. We are extremely excited.

(By the way, the JNTO website is such a great travel resource; we cannot begin to tell you. Well actually, we can. It has this super-cool interactive map of Japan, and for each place you might want to visit it has a handy-dandy little PDF like this that tells you anything and everything you might want to know. So great.)

Speak of travel, we have been checking out our travel books like Frommer's Japan and Lonely Planet Japan to try to read up on some of our destinations (and to get some ideas for future travel). We noticed that The Lonely Planet Japan book has a first chapter on "Japan Highlights." As it turns out, we have been banging these out like nobody's business. Here are some of the "Japan Highlights" on the list:

  1. Kyoto Temples and Gardens. Check.
  2. Tsukiji Fish Market. On the agenda for Tokyo next week.
  3. Onsen. Check. (At least for Ilena)
  4. Classic Ryokan. On the agenda for Miyajima next week.
  5. Todai-ji Temple in Nara. Check.
  6. Himeji-Jo. Check.
  7. Sumo. Check.
  8. Hanami. Check.
  9. Kaiseki Style Meal. Check. (At least for Mike)
(And a whole bunch of other stuff that we haven't done yet, but 9 out of 20 isn't bad so far!)

Yesterday, Jacob's class had a class trip to Suma Aquarium, which we had previously visited as a family. Ilena went along as a volunteer. Here are a couple pictures. We love the second one, a sea of red- and yellow-capped Japanese school children in the audience at the dolphin show:

Jacob's doing great in school. Now he is combining his science queries and his reading and writing skills by writing questions he has in his journal (e.g., I wonder how lions roar? I wonder how stingrays swim?). He had a school research project on stingrays, so we will get those questions answered.

As for Lauren, last night at 3 AM, Ilena awoke because Lauren's light flicked on and she heard the pitter-patter of little feet. She went to Lauren's room to find Lauren "reading" a book she had retrieved from the tatami room. Lauren was extremely upset to learn that she could not read and had to go back to sleep. (No this was not a dream).

In sports, the Hanshin Tigers beat the Chunichi Dragons 3-2 today to push their record to a league-best 16-5. Tiger's Closer Kyuji Fujikawa came on to get the save. (For a real Japanese baseball blog, check this one out. That's a good job. A good job by her, as Chris "Mad Dog" Russo would say.) Meanwhile, back States-side, the Yankees are mediocre, and the old blowhard Steinbrenner has been replaced by the next-generation Steinbrenner blow-hard. Um...go Tigers?

Finally, check out this great video of an insanely crowded rush-hour train here in Japan. A co-worker from the U.S. sent this link around.

Mike's response:

"While Japan has given me a newfound appreciation of how much space you can really create by pushing the hell out of the people in front of you (my favorite move is the reverse-spin and back yourself into the train car while propping yourself on the to area over the sliding door to jam yourself in), I must say that I've never been on a train quite like that one. If you go in 10 minutes later than the "must be at work by 9 AM" crowd, at least in Kansai area, its not too bad. Although my feet have left the floor a few times on the special limited trains."

Well - that's that. If you have made it this far, do drop us a comment. We miss you all!


jackaw said...

Well, Passover has come and gone. With youse guys in Japan and Lisa cavorting in CA, our number was decreased by -- let me count this up -- five is it? And Danny, of course. that's six! Everyone missed you, but I have to say that reading your blog puts us much closer than we ever imagined we would be.
The Ikibana (sp?), the meeting of friends on a leisurely stroll, the reading of signage, Jacob's astute analysis of 'she's a mammal and you never made it!' are all smile-provoking tid-bits. Somehow, this trip of yours has put you all into sharper focus and I for one appreciate your skills, approaches to life and general good humor more than ever.
From the curmudgeon who don't like very many people but loves you all.

The Stover Family said...

Mike - since you are not height-challenged, perhaps you have a slight advantage of the rest of the train passengers. Maybe train-diving is something you could try to secure a spot when none seems available. You CAN see over everyone's heads...right? Ha ha ha! Have a fun Golden Week! Can't wait to hear all about it.

jmgesq said...

And you've done some things I bet that aren't even in the books! (And those might be best of all though the rest seems pretty wondrous.)