Tag Archives: japan

Japan with Kids #6

9 Apr

We have made it to Kyoto and the cherry blossoms are about a day or two away from peak blossom.  We have rented a little traditional Japanese house in the center of the city and are enjoying the tatami rooms, futons and kotatsu (low japanese table with heater underneath).  MANY photos of cherry blossoms to come!

The famous Japanese “fish cake” (bento box lunch in the Shinkansen train).Most delicious breakfast made by dear friend Kumi.  Mini pickled fish, rice balls with seaweed, seafood salad, fresh fruit and her favorite fruit cake recipe from Anne of Green Gables.Hike up mountain in Kakogawa.  Walking sticks are offered at beginning of path.Mini matcha tea ceremony at top of mountain.Beautiful views, great friends and delicious Japanese sweets.  Perfect day.Rest time (note to self…talk to kids about posture).
Japanese train station fast food.  I think they’re onto something.Meeting little daughter of friend.  They didn’t speak a common language but ended up communicating through the art of origami!  Hundreds of paper cranes, balls, frogs, pianos and ninja stars were made.

Japan with kids #5

7 Apr

Vending machine culture.  Everywhere

.o

Off to Mount Fuji.
Best tofu ever.  And this from a girl who is not so keen on tofu.Eating “Japanese Pizza” with our dear friend Masako.Trying on a traditional kimono.So tight.
Mount Fuji and kimonos.  We saw Fuji from just about every angle and it was absolutely stunning.

Japan with kids #4

4 Apr


Visit to the Edo-Tokyo Museum.  Luckily we met a friend of a friend there and she guided us around the entire museum and made the visit so interesting for both us and the kids.

Walking to the train station after a delicious soba noodle lunch (in typhoon winds and rain).

Japanese arcades are the place to be.

Fell in love with this shop.

Visited exhibit by South Korean artist Lee Bull at the Mori Art Museum.  Pretty amazing.

Another city, another enormous spider sculpture by Louise Bourgeios.

Harajuku girl.Busy kids and the Tokyo skyline.

Pack of gum with little papers included (for the wads of chewed gum).

Future photographer?

Japan with Kids #3

2 Apr

Greetings from Tokyo! We made it safe and sound and have even experienced our first earthquake.We visited the Meiji Jingu Temple located in Yoyogi Park.  Nico decided to write a prayer for the prayer wall.  I don’t know what he wrote but he did ask me how to spell dream and mother.  The prayer wall.  Most people wrote wishes for loved ones or world peace.Other people were a bit more specific.Barrels of sake offerings for the enshrined deities.Our first kimono sighting in the Harajuku district.Visit to the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Tower.  Great panoramic views of the city and even Mount Fuji in the distance.

Japan with kids #2

31 Mar

Off we go…

And we hope to see lots of these!

Japan with kids #1 (pre-travel)

29 Mar


In a few days we are leaving for a family vacation to Japan.  Yes…Japan!  Every time I say that to someone there are one of two reactions.  First one being “Are you nuts!  It’s full of radiation and earthquakes over there!”.  The second being ” Wow you guys must be rich”.

As for going to a place that is laden with dangers such as earthquakes, tsunamis and radioactive veggies, I’m pretty sure we’ll be fine.  At the moment there is no official warning against traveling to Japan and we figure if Japan is okay for 127 million people to live in then it’s okay for us to visit for two weeks.  Plus, the Japanese tourist economy needs all the help it can get at the moment.

As for the second reaction that we get when we tell people that we are traveling to Japan, we’re not rich.  We’re very fortunate but we work hard to be able to do these sorts of trips with our family.  And as everyone knows, Japan is known to be one of the most expensive places to travel in the entire world.

Luckily we got some really great prices on our flights (because nobody seems to want to go there since the tsunami).  It literally cost us half of what we pay to visit family in Canada every year.  We booked these tickets in September and paid for them right away.  That’s our whole theory on organising these big trips.  Pay everything  slowly over time.  Here’s a break down of how we organised our Japan trip.

September: book and pay for flights to Tokyo
December: book and pay for train passes (which unfortunately cost the same as the flights!)
February: book and pay for some of the hotels (if possible)

So by the time we actually leave for our trip most of the big expenses are paid off and we don’t have to even think about it.

The other thing that is a big help is to slowly save spending money over the same amount of time.  This time we used a lovely little red Piggy Bank that we had bought at a Frida Kahlo exhibit in Milan years ago.  I wanted a place to collect money that we couldn’t touch after it was put in (you know…to pay the water guy or the plumber when I accidentely have an empty wallet).

So over the months we would put in 5 euro here, 20 euro there.  A few times we put in bigger amounts as well (Christmas gifts from family etc).  The kids even put in the odd euro coin when they had it as well.  In the end that pig became a small part of our daily routine..get home from busy day, put down purse, dump any extra change or bills into pig.

And it worked my friends!  Over the months we saved up enough to pretty much pay for our spending money for the two weeks that we’ll be in Japan.

Last week we made the whole smashing of the Piggy Bank into a family event.  We all gathered around a table with the pig and a wooden mallet.  We were all feeling pretty bad to have to smash such a lovely piggy bank but we were all curious enough to see what was inside that in the end we even had fun doing it.

Japan has always been a country that has intrigued me on so many levels.  The cuisine, the history, the culture, the art, the religion. I’m really looking forward to experiencing it all and feel so fortunate to have quite a few Japanese friends who will be showing us around.  Many photos and travel stories to come!



Yayoi Kusuma

13 Feb

Next month my family and I are going to Japan for a two week vacation.  It’s a trip I’ve been fantasizing about for years and I am so excited to go.  I’ve always been so intrigued by Japanese culture, art and food (who isn’t?).  The last while we’ve been busily organising and planning our trip and trying to find all the most interesting activities and places to visit with a family.  One of the most exciting ones we’re in the process of organising is a trip to The National Museum of Art in Osaka to see an Yayoi Kusama exhibit.  We weren’t planning on going to Osaka but when we saw this exhibition we decided to fit it into our plans as a daytrip from Kyoto (where we will be staying for almost a week).

Yayoi Kusama is an amazingly interesting and talented Japanese artist who has been voluntarily living in a psychiatric institution since 1977 (she is now 82).  She’s famous for her paintings, sculptures and installations that almost always include polka dots.  She was quite prominent in the modern pop culture scene in New York City in the 60’s where she is said to have had a huge influence on artists such as Warhol.  She has actually just opened a big exhibition at the Tate Modern in London which includes one of her largest “Mirror Rooms” to date (on from February 9th to June 5th).

I pretty sure my polka dot obsessed daughters are going to love this exhibition!

In 6 months we will be here…

12 Oct

 

And maybe we’ll see one of these…

 

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