World of the kooopas

This is Keiji’s interpretation of Mario’s World.  You know Mario, right?  Every boy in elementary school here (and some  kindergardeners) has a Nintendo DS.  We happened to have one which wasn’t being used. It was a Christmas gift Yuki  had gotten at his previous job. We decided to let K use it on the 13-hour flight to NY. He’s gotten into Mario games ever since. I admit at first he was easily hooked for hours playing, but we’ve since set a limit on it, keeping it away out of his sight during school days.  So fortunately it’s not a big problem getting it away from him.

The Trick Art Museum

Keiji happened to see a television program that featured some of the interesting museums in the Tokyo area. After seeing some footage on the Trick Art Museum he said “I wanna go there!”  So we headed over to the Mount Takao area, but there are actually a few different ones around.

The 2 story building facade looks a bit love-hotel-like with life-size paintings of Egyptian sphinxes all over.  I wouldn’t have thought to go  there if we hadn’t seen the TV show, but it’s quite fun to go through all the rooms full of optical illusions – paintings that look 3-dimensional and rooms that play tricks on the eyes.  The kids really enjoyed, too.  It’s best to bring a camera or video and have lots of memory because it’s fun to take so many pics since you really notice the 3-D effect much more in photos.

Zoorasia in Yokohama

We went to a nice zoo, called Zoorasia in Yokohama. Surrounded by sprawling park grounds, a family with young ones can easily spend an pleasant day there.

There are a few main attractions such as the elephants, the tigers and the  unusual okapi. The end of the trail leads into a fun playground, too!


Conversations with my 4-year old

While she was coloring her Hello Kitty coloring book and I folding laundry….

A:  Mommy, why doesn’t Kitty-chan have any lips?

Me: Well, sometimes we can’t see cants lips because their faces are furry.

A: Ohhhh,  Kitty-chan is a cat??

Me: Yes she is.

A:  I thought she was a doggy.

Enoshima Island

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Enoshima 江の島 is a tiny island that is part of Fujisawa City in Kanagawa.  From Tokyo it’s around a 2 hour drive.  We had a nice little day trip there with the kids.  They managed to climb up all the steps that lead to a small cave on the further end of the island.  For a small fee, there is an escalator that goes up to the top of a hill, where there is a lighthouse observatory deck. Otherwise, you can walk up to the temple (in honor of the goddess of music and the atrs) and continue up through a pretty garden and to the observatory. From that point, you can walk balk down towards the small cave. Entering the cave was a bit scary for the kids as it was rather dark. We learned that the waters surrounding Enoshima was believed to be the home of a giant dragon that ravaged the island, until the the goddess known as Benten married him.

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Just be warned that if you take the kids down this way all the way to the cave, they will have to walk back up as there is no alternative way out. We had a few complaints going back up, but nothing that couldn’t be resolved with a frosty popsicle break at one of the many cafes overlooking the water.

Lunch was shirasu (teeny tiny white fish that you eat whole), which is popular there. Here is the large okosama lunch set (お子様ランチセト) kids plate with shirasu over rice and topped with a bit of ikura, ebi fry, french fries, sweet egg, yakult and jelly for dessert.

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Kids Fun at Bornelund

It’s been raining non-stop the past two days and there is only so much the kids and I can take staying indoors for this long. We headed over to this place called Kid-o-Kid, also known as Bornelund. They have a few locations all over Tokyo. It’s a really fun place for the kids to let out all their energy. There’s a big ball pit with slides, a huge air mattress for kids to jump on, a bouncy castle-type room, an air tunnel that kids go into and push so that they look like hamsters in a wheel, a sandbox and many areas for creative play. The kids were all rosy-cheeked and sweaty from spending a full hour jumping around the ball pit, bouncing up and down and rolling around.

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It was a bit crowded since it was a rainy Sunday.  Weekend rates are by time. Each child costs 600 yen for the first 30 minutes and 100 yen every 10 minutes after that.  Adults pay 300 yen each, regardless of time. On weekdays there is a day plan for 1500 yen which covers one child and one adult for the whole day.  It was a fun time.

My Household Cleaning Companion

This is like the all-purpose item that can practically clean everything in a home!  I had trouble looking for baking soda when I first arrived in Japan. I finally found some Arm & Hammer baking soda at shops that sell some items from abroad, like Kaldi Farm. One box usually costs around 500 yen. But last week, I found this huge 12 lb bag of Arm & Hammer at Costco for only 600 yen.

baking sodaI’m sure you couldn’t imagine needing this huge bag….but look at all the practical uses for it!  Here are some of my favorite uses for it… Continue reading →

Tokyo Disney Sea Resort

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We woke up Tuesday morning and decided it would be a nice day to finally check out Tokyo Disney Sea Resort. We haven’t been there before since we heard that it’s more fun for adults than younger kids. But since grandma is in town, the kids are older now and we can actually travel stroller-free (wooohooo!), we figured it could be a nice change from Tokyo Disney to see recreated 1920’s New York City, Venice canals and Arabian night scenery… and Arisa would still get to see Mickey and Minnie.

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For last-minute planning the day went quite well. My friend was kind enough to give me a coupon that she found in the newspaper, making the tickets 4,800 yen for adults and 2,900 yen for children ages 4 – 11. There are usually special discounts coupons lurking about- so it’s good to check the convenience stores or newspapers ads or just ask friends if they know of any.

What made it extra lucky that day was the lack of crowds! We managed to go on a lot of rides, even the usually long-wait-time rides like Indiana Jones, without waiting at all.  The longest wait that day was probably 10 minutes. Even the line to wait for a photo with Minnie was not half as long as the typical wait time to pose with Mickey in his house. We attributed it to the fact that it was a Tuesday and a couple of weeks after Golden Week, so most people were are taking any days of f on the weekday or traveling much after GW.

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It was quite an enjoyable day! The kids had fun and there were enough rides for them to go on. Arisa especially enjoyed the Mermaid Lagoon area, where they rode the jelly fish ride which goes up and down. To my surprise, they even rode Flounder’s Fish Coaster, which looked pretty fast. Keiji enjoyed the Aquatopia ride, which look like mini hovercrafts that spin around the water. Although they did say they like Disneyland more at the end of the night as we walked out into the empty parking lot, it seemed that they had a pretty good time.  The one drawback of the day – strong winds. So the evening show and fireworks were cancelled.  Other than that, it was a lovely day indeed.

Cherry Blossoms in Twilight

The cherry blossoms add a happy hue to the concrete grey backdrop of Tokyo’s buildings. I miss seeing the rust colored brick walls found on most New York buildings, even when they are crumbling or splattered with graffiti. The short time cherry blossoms are in bloom make it all the more special. This year the weather was very fickle, going from wintery cold to summery hot in just a week.  Not to mention some torrential rains in between.  Here are some cherry blossoms we walk by each day~

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Visiting Kitty-chan

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In the States we know her as Hello Kitty, but here in Japan she is Kitty-chan and she can be found at Sanrio Puroland (pronounced pyuroland, but I’m not sure what this means).  It’s an indoor little “theme park”  but there is really only one ride, which is similar to Disneyland’s Its a Small World. Puroland mostly has different shows. There are 3 or 4 different mini theaters in there with performances of about 20 – 30 minutes long. The most impressive one was a show with Kitty-chan performing as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. It was a collaboration with the Takarazuka Theater Group, which is famous in Japan as an all-women’s theater group and at each of their performances they do a very elaborate revue of Rockettes-style dancing and grandiose costumes – think feathers, sparkles and plenty of headgear. And yes, Kitty-chan was dressed in all this Vegas splendor. There is also a small parade twice a day and Kitty-chan’s house, where you can have a photo taken with her. The crowd is mostly parents (or mothers) with their young daughters, but Yuki and Keiji managed to enjoy themselves enough as well!

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