Shish KeBABA

Posted on Thursday, December 31, 2009 | 2 comments

   My brother Andrew, as most of you probably already know, hasn't been home for the holidays this year. He's in Palestine volunteering, and we miss him like crazy. In lieu of the real thing, we decided to make Andrew on a stick...which quickly became known as 'Shish KeBABA'. My niece refers to Andrew as 'Baba' for reasons that only she knows, and you can figure out where the rest of the name came from. Since I'm too lazy to post the pics again, here's the link to our Shish KeBABA album on facebook:

I still wish that he were here in person, but Shish KeBABA is almost *almost* as popular as Andrew himself! Go figure. Maybe he needs his own fan page?

Shop 'Til You Drop!

Posted on Monday, December 28, 2009 | 0 comments

   Last week was a busy week! Swine flu, driving to Detroit to pick up Yuki, Christmas, holiday baking, a wedding there will be a lot of belated posts later, but I just haven't had time to upload all the pics yet. And no, I haven't forgotten to finish Kyoto, either.
 But for now, I'd like to just say that I completely understand those Asian people you see at the outlet malls here in America--you  know, the ones laden with so many bags that they can barely walk? That was me today. Only minus the Asian part, obviously. Clothing in general here is way cheaper than it is in Japan, and the sales are just outright dangerous. Add that to the fact that I can rarely find long-sleeved shirts/sweaters that cover the length of my arms over there, and it's no wonder that most of the clerks at the Banana Republic today now know me by name. Oh, and we also got pretty friendly with the manager over at Aldo. And let's not forget Ralph Loren, Old Navy, and Hollister, among others. At least I'm stocked up for the year. Now please excuse me while I go put my credit card in the snow to cool it off!

Kiyomizu Dera, and the demon in my stomach!

Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 | 0 comments

 I seem to be on the mend from this nasty swine flu or whatever it is that's attacked me. I'm incredibly greatful that I'm starting to beat it after just 2 days, though. I honestly can't remember the last time I felt this ill, besides the whole food poisoning in Vietnam incident last New Year! The beast is definitely not completely gone though, and right now it seems to be attempting a growling escape attempt out of my stomach, Alien-style. But at this point, I'm happy to take on the Alien!
 Continuing trying to wrap up our Kyoto trip earlier in the month, here are some shots of Kiyomizu Temple. It's one of the most popular (aka crowded) temples in Kyoto, obviously with good reason. Enjoy! I'm off to find some Tums!

Kyoto Lunch and the Flu

Posted on Tuesday, December 22, 2009 | 0 comments

  (Ignore that bit about ignoring the date on this post! It seems to be working now finally)  

   Ok, so first off, just ignore the date on this post. I uploaded the pics before I left Japan, and once again I have no idea how to change the posting date. The actual date here is December 21st in America, meaning it's December 22nd in Japan.
 After 26 hours of traveling, I finally made it home! Yea! Only to wake up with a full-on case of the flu this morning. Right. Thanks, Santa. 101 degree fever, chills, nausea, other fun stuff we're not going to mention here. Needless to say, I've literally spent my entire first day back in the US at home in bed. Frustrating, since I need to do some last-minute shopping, plus it'd be nice to actually see some of my friends! Keep your fingers crossed that this evil little present will be gone by tomorrow!
 I'm not going to write much else, since even getting down to the computer has tested my energy reserves. But here are a few pics of our lunch and around Gion in Kyoto on December 3rd....

           'I love lamp'

Kyoto, first stop: Kinkakuji

Posted on Friday, December 18, 2009 | 0 comments

   We're leaving for Yokohama in a half hour, and I'm desperately trying to upload pics from our hard drive so that I can finish blogging about Andrew's trip some time this weekend before I fly out on Sunday. Today has been a whirlwind of trying to pack, working, cleaning, baking an apple pie, and chasing Wasabi after she bites me in an attempt to get some attention!
 So, without further ado, here's the first part of our day trip to Kyoto. We hopped on the bullet train around 8 am, arriving in Kyoto at almost 11. I quickly got us onto a bus bound for Kinkakuji (The Golden Pavillion), only to discover that it was going the reverse direction, so our trip took about 20 minutes longer than expected. Oops. But, we still made pretty good time looking around Kinkakuji (I was trying to get in trips to 3 shrines/temples plus a decent lunch, all in the span of 9 hours). It's a gorgeous temple and well worth the hassle of dealing with masses of fellow tourists. There was a light drizzle when we got there, but nothing strong enough to detract from the beauty of the temple itself and the surrounding gardens. 
 If you want to know more about the temple itself, feel free to Wiki it, since I don't have the time to write about it now unfortunately!

    Thanks for subsidizing our trip, Dad!

Sunpu-Jo in downtown Shizuoka

Posted on Thursday, December 17, 2009 | 1 comments

  We visited Sunpu Castle on December 2nd, in downtown Shizuoka. It's not the original castle, which burned down sometime in I think the 1600s. This one was rebuilt pretty much directly after the first one was destroyed, so it's still a few hundred years old.

         Across the street from the castle is a school...and we just happened to see this guy leaning out of a window on the top floor. Andrew wondered out loud whether or not the guy was a jumper (it sort of seemed like it), so I snapped his picture. Which Andrew then got on my case about, me snapping a picture of a potential sucicide and all. But considering that it was only a 3 story building, I don't think that either of us were seriously considering the possibility. Neither was the guy, it turned out: he was passing cables up to another guy on the roof. I guess an over-active imagination runs in the family!

  Behind Sunpu-jo is a Japanese-style garden that's somewhat famous in the area. I can't remember the name of it, but they hold seasonal events there, and there's also a tea room/house where you can get free tea. Unfortunately for us, there was something going on in the teahouse that day, so no tea, but they did make up for it by giving us free calendars instead.

                Can you spot Jesus?

The teahouse that we weren't allowed into

  In other news, I have made no further progress with packing since the last post. Go me!!

Yokohama Chinatown

Posted on Thursday, December 17, 2009 | 0 comments

  On the 30th, we went to Yokohama Chinatown for lunch. It's always fun to look around there, plus we figured that they'd have plenty of vegetarian options, something that is kind of scarce in Japan.
  I'd go into more details, but the pictures speak for themselves, plus I really should think about starting to pack my suitcases, considering that we leave for Yokohama tomorrow evening and I go on from there to the airport on Sunday!


         I don't know what these things were called, but they had egg in them...and maybe some sort of drug, they were so addicting!

               Still hungry after lunch, Yuki thought that perhaps cat ear might taste good


                      Steamed niku-man, which are basically huge meat-stuffed buns

 We'd been by this hotel before and had an old lady yell at us for taking of course Andrew sat down and waited until she came out. She seemed rather confused when she opened the door and there was Jesus saying 'Hello!'

                 Ahh...nothing like a good head massage!

                Minato Mirai

            Umm...not something I'd buy for my kid unless I wanted protective services coming after me!

                       Our favorite was 'I've had elbowroom in my mind'  (on the bottom left). Your left, not mine.

Yamanashi, Houtou Lunch, and a Winery with Wassabi

Posted on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 | 0 comments

  On the 29th of last month, we took the (very, very) long route to Yokohama, driving up around Mt. Fuji for lunch, into Yamanashi and then finally back down towards Kanagawa and Yokohama. Wasabi had to suffer through a 7-hour car ride, but it was either that or drive all the way back to pick her up before heading to Yokohama for the rest of the weekend, which would've added at least another 2 hours to our trip.
And we suffered a bit, too, seeing as Wasa refuses to stay in her cage for car trips. (She cries the ENTIRE time if she's forced to stay in it). Once out, however, she tends to bounce around from window to window until we get on the highway, at which point she'll stop howling/biting/going beserk and settle down on my lap. The problem with this trip was, besides the duration, we really weren't on the highway much for the first 5 hours. And Wasa HATES stops and starts!

             Mobile wrestling ad we spotted on the road

                      Dashboard surfing

                       'Mommy?? '

    Near Mt. Fuji, there are lots of restaurants famous for 'houtou', which is basically a steaming-hot iron pot full of thick noodles and veggies, with the option of adding meat such as pork, duck, or bear. Yes, you read right. Bear. Needless to say, Andrew's was vegetarian, I got the vegetarian too, but with extra mushrooms, and nobody got bear!

            Delicious Houtou Lunch!

   The sign in back of us says 'Something something Fuji-san (Mt. Fuji) Wine Cellar'. Maybe one day I'll be able to read all of the Kanji!

  The wine shop was our last stop before going on to Yokohama. They were rather stingy with their tastings, but perhaps that was a good thing, seeing as we encountered a traffic jam on the way back. Even so, there was quite a bit of discussion about whether or not one of us would need to take advantage of Wasabi's travel litter box! Luckily for those of us with small bladders, a convenience store appeared just in time to save the day!!