Before we start, I just want to say that I spent a good part of this evening standing on our front porch and the silence was music to my ears. The quaint, sleepy neighborhood we live in is such a turn from the busy middle of Western AVE back in Chicago. It’s nice to get some peace and quiet. There was no wind, but if the wind were to blow it would faintly rustle through the bamboo rooted near the base of Atago Mountain. And there is just enough light to make out the clay rooftops of our neighbors houses. This place is close to heaven, at least for me.
Alright, where do we begin? Prolly somewhere at the end of January or beginning of February. We did move into our new house on 24 January. That was incredible. But before anyone gets their hopes up, we still have some furniture coming in and the last of it won’t be here till the first week of March, so a walk-thru won’t happen till after then. Sorry to keep delaying, but I can promise you we’ve stepped up in the square footage, zen, and straight-up sexiness of a traditional Japanese home.
Our house is nice though. Each of the kids have their own room, Rudy loves the open space to build his trains and EB has a really cool block rug that makes the floor soft and playful. Mo n I have our own room that is a bit tight, but cozy nonetheless.
We did go back to Hachigamine Park and take in a few more sights. We passed by the Watership Down rabbit park on our way to taking the train around to see some of the other parts of the park we missed. We also partook in some bumper car action. Only ¥100 per ride. Super happy fun time! We get around, from carnival to culture.
With Rudy and EB going to Funky Mo Mo we tend to learn a bit of Japanese culture through their local education. We participated in Satsubun which is a Japanese ritual held on the 3rd of February, which based on the Japanese lunar calendar is the eve of Spring. We went to the local Shinto shrine to celebrate and essentially throw beans at the devil – called Oni – to scare evil spirits away. Never mind the Oni mask that’s tattooed on my inner right bicep (cue “Devil Inside” by INXS). It was fun and I’m sure as the years go on this tradition – like most others – will grow.
And speaking of traditions, we did spend a Sunday in Mihara celebrating the Daruma Doll. Now, I’ll be as simplistic as possible with this because essentially – to put it in Western terms – the Daruma Doll festival is held every second Sunday of February and it is a gathering designed for folks to develop a goal or new years resolution for themselves. We resolved to have a good time while we were there and took in all the vendors, live music and warm sake the festival could provide. It was a might chilly out but the kids managed to stay warm and the parents sang wee wee wee all the way home.
We’re not sitting still too much and we’re really trying to take in as much of the culture as we can. Next month is strawberry picking, riding the bullet train and spending time in Kyoto for EBs birthday looking at the plum blossom trees. And in April we plan on taking in the Yabusame festival which is a whole different – and something religious – experience all in its own.
More recently, we went back to the Kintai Bridge and made our way up the mountain to see the Iwakuni Castle. Wow! I’ve seen quite a few castles in Germany when I was a kid (and even an old Soviet castle back in ’02 in Afghanistan), but Japanese castles hold to a class all their own. And the displays of samurai gear was incredible. I can’t wait till April when the cherry blossoms come out to full bloom so that we can truly see Kintai in all its awesome glory.
I hope these updates are coming back home and bringing good spirits and great cheer to all who partake. Remember, our house is open and if anyone is interested in seeing a part of Japan the normal tourist wouldn’t see, please reach out and we’ll be happy to accommodate. This place is way too beautiful to pass up in a lifetime. And if you’ve already seen Tokyo, you haven’t seen the rest of the country.
Kanpai! Here’s to a dry glass!