Saturday, July 24, 2010

New Years Eve

New Years Eve in Japan is always fun, I have probably talked before about Hatsumode- people like to pray for good luck for the year at a local temple or shrine. So I wanted to take Steve to a local worship spot to experience NYE Hamamatsu style. We settled on this temple (forgetting name) up in the hills, as we could see the lighting from below.
All the lanterns were lit lending a warm feeling to a pretty chilly night actually.
Luckily at the top, they were serving warm Amazake- immature, sweet sake. Drinking of this is a tradition for New Years.
There was also a nice warm fire by which we could stand and warm our bones.
Snow is a rare site in Hamamatsu- on this evening snow danced around in the air as we took in the ambiance.
The shrine for praying. Just to hedge my bets, I made a quick wish for Mona's safe and quick delivery.
Snow falling on cedars.
Steve was enjoying the scene and took many pictures.
Alas it was time to head down and call her a day.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Akiha jinja with Steve, Keiko and Ken

The day after our festivities, Ken and I took Steve and Keiko up to Akiha shrine north of Tenryu.
It is guarded by this dangerous looking cat, which looks a lot like Santa, much to Keiko's delight.
We walked up 5649 stairs or so and arrived at a very solid and pristine looking spot. On a clear day the view would surely be beautiful.
Ken sauntered up to the hand washing spot at the temple.
The real golden arches.
The shrine was very beautifully displayed front and center.
Extreme closeups are always great when someone is taking pictures.
Another view of the shrine.
Some interesting and beautiful plants in the courtyard.
Alas, it was time to head back down and Keiko headed back to home after a brief stay. Steve hung out for a few more days and we could enjoy New Years celebration together after a James Bond double-header at my place. Next time...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bentenjima then to our home for the evening

Ken and I took Steve and Keiko over to Bentenjima. Ken fell asleep in the car and I let Steve and Keiko enjoy a walk to see the view. I snuck out and shot a few pictures.
Beautiful sunset that day.
Then to our home for fun and hilarity. Unfortunately, I didn't know Keiko is allergic to cats and didn't seem too much more comfortable with Arfie. Poor girl!
Steve inflated a pink balloon for KenKen and much fun was had.
Though I think Steve was trying to flash me a finger here.
But all fun things must end and so did that evening. But we had a great first night with S&K.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Steve and Keiko's visit in December

Ken was about to meet someone he would grow to love deeply and often demand to see. Of course I mean Steve. Hmmm, woulda thought Keiko, eh? Well Steve can be pretty charming.
It was just after Ritsy had come back home from the failed Induced Labour, and she was very pregnant and tired. So Ken and I picked up Stevey and Keiko from the station and we hit the Nakatjima Sand Dunes off the bat.
They carried shoes together. Crazy kids.
Then we enjoyed some noodles (at a shop they purported to have the best gyoza in Hamamatsu, pshaw) at a Noodle infested spot near the station again.
And we hit the castle of Hamamatsu. One of many strongholds held by Tokugawa Ieyasu at one time.
Fun was had by all.
We found a statue in the park that Ken and Steve needed to recreate.
I think the bond was created here. "Crazy Steve", thought Ken, "he is great!". Or something like that.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ken's Birthday number 2

I will skip the upload of my cheesy video of picture highlights I made for his birthday, but last year was a special birthday as it would be the last of him being the only child. It also was the first that he was really aware what was happening, so it was a good day.
There was Thomas swag aplenty.
And a new tricycle which he still hasn't figured out yet, but we keep trying and when he gets that petal motion, he will be one mobile little guy.
And we had a delightful and delicious cake. Yep, that is Anpanman. Who is Anpanman, you ask? He looks like he is a superhero that has been made from Anko bean paste stuffed bread. Well that is exactly who he is. Hmm, long overdue for an issue of 'That's Japan'...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Looking back at November last year

Back when Ritsy's gut was sticking out and we were getting close to birthing time, or so we thought, we felt it wouldn't hurt to stoke fate a bit. While not particularly religious people, we do always feel we shouldn't tempt fate and will sometimes go to pray at the local temple or shrine.
I may have mentioned before that locally gansuiji is viewed as being good luck for young families. Indeed they will provide services like blessing you (monk), naming your kid (for the low fee of 20,000 yen or something like that) or selling charms for a baby`s health. We felt just depositing 5 yen and praying for a healthy baby was enough.
Ken could get it on the praying.
I love the tradition of lighting the incense and smelling it as it burns in the urn full of ash.
Ken really did, too, this time.
And he felt enlightened afterwards.
Cool naked tree at the temple.

Needless to say, our praying paid off as Mona is healthy and energetic now.

Thomas Land Part 2

I was basically on the 'ride duty' with Ken throughout as Ritsy didn't want to bother with getting Mona out of her carrier. Here we were enjoying the Rock and Roll thomas ride.
Blurry, but cute smile.
Happy and warm next to mommy.
Riding the boat ride.
Happy mommy and Ken.
Time finished and I was happy to see from the highway a Starbucks at one of the rest stops. Definitely needed to make a stop.
Ken was very pleased with the day. Good time with the little fella.