Charming Hoi An

Sunday-Tuesday, July 16-18 is a time to rest and sightsee in Hoi An, Vietnam. It’s another traveling day, this time from Hanoi to Hoi An, Vietnam.  We must fly to the Da Nang Airport and then a car will pick us up to take us to Hoi An.  John heard that Da Nang is a relatively new seaside town meant to cater to booming Vietnamese growth and wealth.  There is a large, fancy housing complex going up on our way outside of Da Nang and our driver tells us that the most famous soccer star, Ronaldo, has bought a place there.  John tells the driver he’s never heard of Ronaldo.  Our driver cannot believe this and he must have thought John…

Chaotic & Wonderful Hanoi

By now we’ve traveled as a family to many countries and we can’t help but make comparisons between one country or city to another that we’ve already been to.  It’s a small world after all.  Something we see in one place will remind us of another place around the world. But Hanoi is a city like no other place that I have ever been to.  It is crazy, congested, chaotic.  Crossing the street means taking your life in your hands every time.  If you cross the street 10 times to get where you want to go, that means you are testing fate 10 times.  For anyone who loves a vibrant, lively city, and John and I do, Hanoi is the…

Cheers from Chiang Mai

July 9-12, 2017.  Thailand is our first stop.  Arrive in Chiang Mai from Bangkok.  We’re exhausted from our initial overseas travel and the early morning wake up calls that it took to get here.  We flew from Osaka to Bangkok and arrived around 11pm.  Then we got up early to fly to Chiang Mai.  Here we are getting on the plane for the first of our many little hops around Southeast Asia.  Before we moved here I thought using the stairway to get on the plane from the tarmac was so cool.  But taking a hot bus from the airport gate to the plane, and then dragging luggage up the stairs isn’t fun anymore.  We’ve done it too many times…

Kimonos and Kyoto

Saturday, June 17, Avalon is signed up for a nature art camp at Ritsumeikan University, Ibaraki campus.  We are meeting her friends and her art teacher at the Starbucks on campus in the morning.  After the camp, my friend Satoko will drive Avalon and I to a kimono shop in downtown Osaka to go kimono shopping.  This is a special kimono shop that mainly rents kimonos out to customers who need a kimono for a special occasion, or who just want to take fancy keepsake photos.  I am looking for a nice used kimono or yukata (a light version that is worn in the summer heat) that I can buy for Avalon and I to share.  This shop has beautiful…

Otaue Matsuri

June is rice planting season!  On Wednesday, July 14 we went to an annual event at Sumiyoshi Taisha called Otaue Masturi.  This translates to Rice Field Planting Festival.  Sumiyoshi Taisha (sue-me-yo-she-tie-sha) is the same Shinto shrine that we went to for hatsumode (the first shrine visit of the new year) on New Year’s Day.  The shrine has its own rice paddy where they hold the event.  We rode the train to the Sumiyoshi Taisha train station.  We got there early enough to buy a ticket for a seat in the shade.  The whole event is about 3 hours long and being in shade is critical to happiness and health!  The tickets were 1000 yen each (about $9 USD).  The tickets…

Minoh Pet Cemetery

June 17, 2017.  This is the Minoh Pet Cemetery.  It is on the same road as the kids’ school, just a block away.  I ride the bike past it all the time, but recently I stopped to take some photos.  I’ve never been inside of a pet cemetery in the US before, but from the outside American pet cemeteries don’t look as elaborate.  Maybe it’s just because this is such a compact space.  I suppose it’s the same though, since people worldwide love their pets as their children. The website for this pet cemetery is very soothing (at least the English translation is).  There are very explicit directions on how to position the animal (when you bring it in) so…

Silly, Strange Japan in Photos

June 13, 2017 I’ve been collecting more interesting photos to share.   Some are hilarious and some are downright strange.  The featured photo above just about sums up my trash frustrations when in the great outdoors.  I don’t mean out on a nature walk.  I mean just after setting foot outside my front door.  One day I asked some people why there were no trash cans in public places.  We had some discussion about it, but the consensus was exactly like on this sign.  Everyone just carries their trash around with them and takes it home.  I guess I need a larger purse! On another day I was talking to an expat American teacher at school and I was telling…

Minoh Kawayuka

Back in early 2016 when we were thinking about moving to Japan, my Auntie Meiko said she and her sisters were coming to Japan on a tour in Spring 2017.  That seemed like a far way off.  But suddenly it’s Spring 2017 and she has already come and gone!  I’d been looking forward to her visit for a long time. The day finally arrived on Saturday, May 20.  I picked her up at Shin-Osaka train station.  She said it only took 13 minutes by Shinkansen (bullet train) to get from Kyoto to Osaka.  I guess that’s platform to platform.  I couldn’t believe it!  She said she was nervous about taking the train by herself, but it was a piece of…

Flowers and Bamboo

This year Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 14.  I think that Mother’s Day is celebrated in some form in many places around the world.  In Japan, Mother’s Day mirrors the US version in May.  However, like a lot of holidays here, it really appears to just be a commercial holiday aimed at selling themed items.  Flowers, candy and cakes that say Happy Mother’s Day are promoted heavily here.  Which is nice for me because Halyard gave me a red Mother’s Day carnation with sprigs of baby’s breath.  My friend here told me that carnations are the most popular flower for Mother’s Day. Well, none of my kids claimed to have any free time for me on Mother’s Day, though I…

Golden Week Guests

Saturday, May 6.  Two things are dictating our Saturday morning.  One, Avalon has to go see the doctor about her big toe that has been bothering her.  I may have already mentioned somewhere that she had an ingrown toenail on her other foot and she thinks it’s the same thing, different toe. Two, Jun has to catch a plane from Itami to Tokyo and on to Baltimore, Maryland later today.  We’ve been practicing how to say, “Hilton,” with him.  He said when he stayed at a Hilton in Australia, whenever he said to the taxi driver, or anyone else, that he was staying at the Hilton, no one could understand him.  It’s “hill-tuh-n” not “he-rue-toe-n.” While I’m at the doctor…