29 April 2008

Tsunoshima and Nude Bathing

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Tsunoshima is an island near Oyama in Yamaguchi Prefecture in Japan. It's where all the markers are on the map. It used to be accessible only by ferry, but about 10 years ago a bridge was built to connect the island with the main island. People go there to take in the flying squid in the parking lot. And to freeze their ears off in 30 mph winds (sustained). It is also a place where there is a lighthouse.

We learned that the lily below is sort of a symbol of either the lighthouse or the Yamaguchi Prefecture. Weren't sure about which. But it was a cool tile in the sidewalk anyway.
A lighthouse is an ingenious device invented by health nuts to lure the knees of old, out of shape women to their deaths. They torture their victims with silly little signs about how many stairs are left. To add insult to injury, a ladder is added to the last 10 feet, just to make it interesting. This provides wayward daughters with photo ops that mothers would just as soon it didn't provide.

This is Makata-san who so graciously braved the elements (and us) to cart us out to the haven that is Tsunoshima. That's Japan behind her. Well, behind the railing that is behind her.

Makata-san also treated us to onsen in Takibe. (You wondered where the nude bathing would come in, didn't you?) Takibe is supposed to have the best natural spring water around. Onsen is relaxing in a hot water springs pool. I don't know if the word onsen refers to the pool itself, or the act of bathing in same. This is done either with your family, or people of the same sex. The pools are segregated, in other words. It is simply hot tubbing in a natural hot spring (we were outside) with everyone in the buff. With no bubbles. It was great. Calm down, it was set up so people from the outside couldn't see anything! And it was really neat to be in the hot spring and have the rain coming down on your head.

Then, when you are done steaming yourself, you take a shower/bath. They provide pumice stones for your feet, and neat shampoo and conditioner for your hair, and soap for your body, and you give yourself a mini-spa.

I didn't take pictures.


I like pizza. My hero hubby likes pizza. We especially like Nick & Willie's pizza. So, the other night when I was with "the girls", my hero stopped by our fave take and bake to pick up a pizza. Imagine his surprise when he was told that would be the LAST pizza. N&W's would be closing. Apparently no one actually wants to get in their car, drive a few blocks, pick up an uncooked pizza, take it back home and bake it! Absurd. Especially since their pizzas are sooooo yummy. My little big sis says so, and she has exquisite taste. In everything. Really. I'm not making any of it up.

My desolate husband went into some kind of mental fugue state upon receiving his bad news. I wasn't there, so I can't actually say that he wept, although that would make for a great story. Instead, he went into action, which is what all hero hubbies do, don'tcha know. I am sure that he quizzed the hapless owner to make sure he had done everything in his power to keep the biz afloat. Next was to make sure the other N&W's in our fair city wasn't closing. It isn't. Big hairy deal, it's really too far away to consider. Unless we went on an N&W run and bought like 15 pizzas and froze them, which defeats the purpose of FRESH pizza. Which thought was running through my hero's head at lightning speed.

Then, he did what comes naturally to him: cushion the blow. He bought:
  1. 1 - 20lb container of [what he thought was] N&W Italian Sausage (which turned out to be hamburger);
  2. 1 - 20lb container of mozzarella cheese (quite possibly their propriety blend of cheeses, but it was already in the freezer downstairs when I got the news, so I have not a clue!);
  3. 1 - 5lb container of cooked bacon (do you see where we are going here?);
  4. a 2 year supply of the cool cardboard pizza baking sheets (these were actually free - the hapless owner took pity, I think);
  5. 2 take and bake cookies.
  6. The only reason he DIDN'T purchase the 2 year supply of pizza dough is because he DIDN'T want to purchase the nifty dough press they use to make it so thin.

When I got home Saturday, I went to try and find a place in the fridge for the stew pot that had mostly finished beef, chorizo and black bean chili in it so I could finish it off the next day. I opened up the produce drawer in order to stuff something in it (all other possible room in the fridge was taken up with the above list of items, minus the cheese) and found - a take and bake cookie!

That really got me to giggling. I love my hero hubby.

25 April 2008


Our first trip out from Shimonoseki, we went to KitaKyushu. Kokura was the city, to be exact. In this pic, you can see the "cheese wedge" shaped building behind the wild woman chasing pigeons. That is 1 building of the Riverwalk Mall.

Directly behind the mall, and across the pigeon bridge, is Kokura Castle. Here is a picture of the castle with a clever lamppost in front of it. They tend to sneak into every picture.

The sakura were just starting to show their color when we

were there. It was a rainy day, and late in the afternoon and just beautiful.

Inside, ninja were scaling the wall to attack the speaker set up in the diorama of Kokura in the early 1600's. It was quite an impressive diorama, with more than 1500 dolls, all in period costume, and a featured fight at Ganryugima (see http://homsar06.blogspot.com/2008/04/ganryujima.html for more info on that subject). There were cool samurai headgear displayed, and portraits of the daimyo, and other cool stuff from the culture of the era.

I really like the demon mask with his tongue sticking out. I'd be scared to have someone wearing that come after ME.

It was pretty cool to be there, all in all.

24 April 2008

Ziploc Bags

Our society has been taken over by Ziploc and Glad. How have we ever survived without Ziploc bags or Gladware? WhenEVER we have something that needs to be toted or stored, temporarily or even sometimes permanently, the first thing a lot of us think about is clear plastic. With a zip or a lid. I picked up some buttons yesterday that were falling off a customer's curtains (because of the glue on them) and in what did she store them? You guessed it. 2 points! So I put HER pint-sized Ziploc into MY quart-sized Ziploc and took all of them home with me to fix.

20 April 2008


Still 03/25/08

After Osaka Castle, we wrestled Buck and Red back onto the subway (thank you, kind sir, who pointed out the elevator across the street!), to Cosmo Square, where we got on a monorail that took us to the Ferryport.

The Ferryport is where were to get on the ferry bound for Mojiko. We had to schlepp the usual suspects around - upstairs, of course. There we watched trucks driving into the ferry, even when it got dark. We had coffee at a little cafe called the "Port said Haishi". Whatever that means.

Then we looked for something strange, but couldn't find anything. We hated disappointing the Ticket Counter, but the only strange thing there was was US (and Buck) and we weren't about to turn ourselves in.

It was really cool watching
our progress on the television all night long. Well, just the parts of the night when we weren't
sleeping. There weren't many of those, either. I woke up when we were going under a humongous bridge and couldn't sleep. I could have played mah-jongg in the mah-jongg parlor, but I figured I would just annoy everyone with my stunning inability to play the game. I could have played backgammon in the backgammon parlor, but 1) I don't know how to play in Japanese; and, 2) I didn't want to get thrown off the boat for winning too much. I suppose I could have taken a bath with everyone else. . . Nah.

I did get a really stellar pic of the sunrise as we were nearing Mojiko. I have one more if you want to see it.

Then, day broke and I went to wake Ruthie. Late! She freaked. Don't blame her. We were the LAST ONES OFF THE BOAT. We got on the last elevator down (because Ruthie thought we needed to go down) and Buck put the weight over and the elevator would not go and the man behind said "GET OUT". We got out. Then a nice man in a uniform asked if we had a car (!), and as we so obviously didn't he escorted us off the boat. He did not even offer to carry Buck down the stairs for the old lady. Hm!

My not waking Ruthie up in time made us late for the bus into the train station. We had to OVER pay a taxi driver. But, as with all tales (?) this one has a happy ending and we did, indeed, end. Up at Ruthie's apartment. And crashed.

18 April 2008

Buses, Trains, & Subways

I left you last, dear reader[s] at Kinkakuji in Kyoto. Wait, there is more. And this is only the 3rd day I've been in country!

*Imperial Palace
Ponto Cho (again)
Osaka Castle


& boats
Buck & Red

March 25, 2008

We had to bid sayonara to Kyoto Century Hotel which was rather nice, and left Buck and Red at the concierge while we finished our sightseeing in Kyoto. After Kinkakuji, we took the bus to the Old Imperial Palace. What a compound. Most of it is in ruins, but there are beautiful areas of gardens, and the ume (plum), momo (I think-peach) and even the sakura were blooming. We took some purty pitchers.

When we got to the entrance of the Imperial Palace itself, we discovered that they do not allow walk-ins! We needed to go to the Kyoto City Hall and get a permit to enter. Needless to say, we didn't go inside. It was cool from the outside, though.

Then to the bus again.

We trekked back to Ponto Cho to eat lunch. Went to a soba restaurant. Ruthie had traditional soba (I guess) layed out cold on a wooden tray, served with rice and meat of choice. Which in this case was tuna sashimi. Served with okra and some slimy egg-whitish stuff that wasn't real appealing. But good for you! I had the udon hot. This is served with broth, soup style. It's served with a bowl of rice on the side with meat and cabbage. It was good. The fried pork gave me heartburn.

Back on the bus to Kyoto Station to pick up Buck and Red from the hotel. I got a seat, Ruthie didn't. At one stop, a woman about my age, maybe a little older, got on. Using the universal non-verbal cues, I offered my seat to her because she had packages in her arms, but she declined. Then she asked if we were tourists. (!) Well, she could have assumed we were tourists. And been half right. We started talking, and I told her how much I loved Kyoto. She told us about her son - a pharmacist close to Inari.

When we prepared to "de-bus" she gave us each 3 pair of tabi! We tried to tell her no, but she insisted. Probably from the 100 yen store. She said she wanted to give something to the nice American ladies. I think she also felt bad because she pegged Ruthie as a student, not a teacher. She phantom tabi gifter disappeared into the crowd at the station.

After we got Buck and Red out of hock, and regaled our very pleasant and well-english-spoken concierge with our exploits, including the tabi ("Why? Why would she give you tabi?"), we toted the big guys away with us for Osaka Castle.

We (make that I) must have looked nuts! Even in America, we would have looked nuts! I froze trying to get Buck onto the escalator, and had to carry him all the way down the steps to the train platform. We took
The Local Express to Osaka Station
to transfer to
The Loop Train
from which we transferred to
the Subway.
We found out that Buck doesn't fit well through the turnstyles. He doesn't really fit well anywhere. Especially Japanese luggage lockers at subway stations. We ended up toting Buck through the Osaka Castle park.This is Ruthie, taking a break on Buck at the park. He was such a baby.

Osaka Castle. It really is quite imposing, while managing to be quite tasteful. But, the picture is REALLY of the street lamp, lurking at the left of the picture.

Osaka Castle, up close and personal. It would have been quite the deal to get up there in a palanquin.

I really liked taking pictures that juxtaposed the old and the new. Like the ancient castle fortification, the moat in front, and a present day "castle" in the skyscraper downtown.
We just don't have any idea unless we've been somewhere that is very old, what it's like. Old in Iowa is 1840's. Old in the Northeast is 1690's. Old in Japan in 1500's and before. Osaka Castle was first destroyed in the very early 1600's. The Imperial Palace was moved to Edo (Tokyo) at that time. That moat and fortification were there before anyone from Europe settled on the new continent.
Stick that in your tabi and walk on it awhile.

17 April 2008

Random Acts

I just received a package today from Motoko-san, a lady that sat next to me on the flight home from Osaka-Kansai. She sent me some stationery with a motif of little girls wearing kimono as well as origami cranes together with a little coin purse made out of that big weave striped fabric they have. The name of it escapes me. How sweet.

This is what I could glean from Motoko-san's spoken kanji: she was 64 yrs old, raised in Hiroshima. I gather from that, she must have been an infant when the bombs dropped and WWII ended. She somehow ended living up on an island village close to there, but I couldn't remember it. She met her American husband, who is in his mid-80's, in London 15 years ago. She said something about a sanitorium or asylum in London, but don't know if she was a patient or working there. She lives in Maryland now on the Bay in her husband's old family vacation home, which is their only home now. He has children, I didn't gather from her conversation that she does. I don't think his children have anything to do with her, but I could be wrong. I was trying to translate from kanji to English. Gets garbled sometimes.

I felt that she is a really lonely person and misses her heart language and her home. I wonder what's keeping her here?

13 April 2008

New Mission in Life - Survey

I have found a new mission in life. Since all these YOUNGSTERS are adding me to their facebook contacts, I should start a blog "Ask Momma CLU" or "Get a CLU for YOUNGsters" or "Dr. Momma CLU". So, let me know, all 2 or 3 of my readers, if you want a CLU. Good idea or not?

Why is Ginkakuji Silver and Kinkakuji Gold?

It just doesn't make sense that Ginkakuji (which starts with a G) would be silver and Kinkakuji (which DOESN'T start with a G) would be gold. Duh. Needless to say, I kept getting them mixed up. I still do, as everyone knows that gold things start with a G.

Kinkakuji is indeed golden, and the park was very beautiful. I have only added a few pics to whet your appetite. This is in the city of Kyoto. By the way, Japan has lots of open space. It's all in parks and gardens and terraced fields. And they tend to build up, not out.

Which leads me to the next thing: sales technique. A Compare and Contrast. (I think I'm one of the few people that actually LIKED that little excerise in English classes.)

American souvenir shop (or any other American shop, for that matter!): one kid, sitting in a corner behind the register either listening to an ipod or texting on his/her phone or reading a book. You could stand there for literally 3 hours and not be noticed until you did something rude, like DYING. Loudly. When you do finally decide to be rude and bother the poor sales person, information has to be dragged from them kicking and screaming. You know that this is true. You almost feel guilty for taking their time and buying the product their boss is trying to [sell] put out there for people to decide whether they want it or not.

Japanese souvenir shop (or any other shop in Japan, for that matter, at least the ones I saw. 100% of them): People are speaking, sing-songing out to you as you pass by their display. If you stop to look, you are given explanations GRATUITOUSLY. This is mochi, this is matcha mochi, this is dongo, this is yatsuhashi, etc. Then, if you stand there a little longer, trying to decide what to do, they start dragging other things out for you to see. How could you live without THIS or THIS? THIS is very nice if you don't like what you see already displayed. Then, if (and when) you purchase something, they give you a freebie. Not in the large department stores or retail stores, but in the smaller places, one owner, mom and pop places. Not anything huge. Just a way to say "Thank you, I really appreciate you buying something from me today. Come back again and buy something from me tomorrow too."

Who would YOU rather patronize?

12 April 2008

Of Ponto Cho, Purikura and Ginkakuji

When we got back to the Kyoto Station after Gion, we were ready for a NAP. So we slept, then went all the way out to Ginkakuji, which is the Silver Pavillion, which is really made of wood. But, by the time we got there, it was closed. But we had an opportunity to see a sign that said pointed up to a restaurant and said "See Up Stear!"

After we ate at the tanuki's okonomiyaki restaurant in Ponto Cho, we hung out in the Shin Jo Kawada-Machi (really, downtown Kyoto) area. They have the usual streets totally covered at the top so it's like a mall with every shop imaginable (and some beyond imagination). That's where your heroine was introduced to Purikura. (pooDEE kooDUH, or a close approximation thereof)

This is the coolest Japanese invention of all. Why do we not have it here? Because American kids scoff at CUTE. But not Japanese kids. These are actual kids of the teenage variety. The Purikura photo booths are filled with Japanese teens all the time.
What is this thing? They are photo booths, big ones, where for around $4.00 you can take up to 6 or 8 pictures in front of a green screen, with scenes that
you pick from the computer. Like, a flying carpet, flying. Or a hamburger that has a big split between the top and bottom, or . . . whatever. Then you go to a 2nd booth, and
decorate the photos with all sorts of cool stuff on the computer,
then you can print out pics or stamps. Dachshunds figure heavily in Japanese culture,
so we have dachshund on one picture for each time we went, which was 3. Total. During the 2 weeks. It was fun, what's your problem?

Then we went to a treat shop called "God Mountain Cafe" no kidding. And I had green tea cake and Ruthie had chocolate gateau, which informed me then and there that the Japanese can be very pretentious and hifalutin' as well as anyone. And I had almond milk, iced, and Ruthie had almond milk, hot. That was good, too.There is an actual slice of cooked sweet potato on top of that green tea cake (which was scrumptious) and red bean paste inside the layer. You can see it if you look really, really hard.

Ruthie [acting] as if she were a monster, about to devour the dessert.

She did.

Devour it.

Japan Chronicles

[Ed.'s note: any "misspelling" of words in this entirely tongue and cheek posting are deliberately so. Don't be so literal. Look them up at dictionary.com if you need to figure out the joke behind the "misspelling".]


. . . a long, long time ago on an island far, far away our heroine, after being held hostage on an Empirical flying ship for nearly 24 hours, finds herself in . . .

a Ponto Cho restaurant, secretly surveiled by Empirical spies cleverly disguised as gravid tanuki while she is introduced to the pleasures of okonomiyaki. Lest the reader think that is a dirty word, okonomiyaki means, basically "whatever you like, fried". It's a lot of shredded cabbage, some veggies, whatever meat you want, some batter and an egg (fresh). It's brought to your table which is ingeniously set up as a griddle as well, you mix it up in the bowl and fry it slowly to make sure the meat is cooked, and then you eat it! With sauce, and fish flakes and mayonnaise. Yum.

But how did CLU get from the Osaka Airport, clu-less and friendless? [That's why they call this a cliff-hanger]
Kyoto Station
Her tour guide and host showed up just in time to save CLU from totally disappearing under all that water, (see Meltdown at Kansai) and whisked her away to Kyoto, land of great food, great desserts and a ginormous train station hub. It was totally fun carting Buck around on the train, (or did they take the bus? it was all a blur for CLU) and on the buses and up AND down the stairs to get to same. Our heroine loved how heavy Buck was, and cumbersome, and Ruth did too, CLU could tell. (Can I take my tongue OUT of my cheek now?)
Kyoto Station
Then, Ruth picked out a tempura restaurant in PORTA, the ubiquitous underground shopping mall replete with food vendors. Thus, CLU was rescued AND fed, and the only thing she needed was a BED. For six weeks.

Kyoto Station

Alas, she had only 2 nights in which to enjoy the bed at the Kyoto Century Hotel. It was very pleasurable. If messy. Price you pay for having your tour guide stay with you, I guess.
Kyoto Century Hotel Room

They left Buck there. He was desolate. CLU was not.

Empirical spies were everywhere, though. Disguised as wily foxes

Really EVIL looking wily foxes
and interesting street lamps in Gion and other quite clever disguises. Hardly ever knew they were there. But CLU and Ruthie knew what to look out for. Those street lamps can be quite dangerous if you don't get pictures of them.

Our heroines were too smart by far for the Empirical spies, and they confused the spies by pretending to be in Memoirs of a Geisha and while Ruthie ran through the Sembon Torii, CLU stayed behind and took photographs. Photography threw the spies off quicker than anything. They just don't get the stupidity of it.

Pretending to be totally disinterested by picking their ears and wearing their own ingenious spy costumes, our heroines were able to stun the spies into a torpor (or throw them into laughing fits) thereby throwing them off the scent.

11 April 2008

Melt Down at Kansai

Okay, dear reader(s), I know you are waiting with bated breath for the next installment of the Japan Chronicles, or CLU gets a Clue, so here we go.

March 23, 2008:

Please (offering) Dozo. [Ed.'s note: that 1st O is supposed to have a
straight line over the top of the it, horizontally, but Ed. hasn't
out to do anything but the most basic stuff on this blogspot.)

Kudasai - asking for

  • Reshito (RAY SHEET O) - receipt
  • Fukuro (FOO KOO DO) - bill

Thank you Arigato Gozaimas

You're Welcome

i t a s h i m a s h t e

Silk - ki-nu

Fabric - nu-no

Cotton - men

Sorry - Gomennasai, sumimasen

- Kakebuton

Isn't it? Des ne?

* Ruth - find word or
phrase for "cry of the loon"

Beautiful - utsukushi - person -
*Nihongo wa kirei des
kirei - nature, country,

Chot-to matte - wait

Grace before meal -

It was a long and boring flight.

Cutter-machine man was to my left, and young sarari-man was to my right.

I took an Ambien CR, 12.5 mg. Slept (if you can call it that, and you can't) for 2 hours. Two. Out of the 13 possible hours.

Did I mention it was a long flight?

And boring?

Then I had to live the day ALL OVER AGAIN because I went back in time. I left Sunday, 4/23/08 at 11:00 a.m., flew for 13 hours and got off the plane on Sunday, 4/23/08 at 1:15 p.m. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

And when my daughter was NOT at the airport to meet me (!) I had a meltdown. Crying is not something the Japanese are comfortable with, I gather.

When I couldn't get her on her phone, I went ballistic. And melted some more (tears make me melt all over, what a world, what a world).

There is a legend told now of the 7ft tall gai-koku-jin-jo with the watery face, dragging a huge suitcase called "Buck" up and down the halls of the Osaka Kansai Airport, crying out the name of her long-lost daughter, scaring little children and bugging the information desk ladies with questions they can't answer (EEEEEKKKKKKK).

10 April 2008

No Red Covered Tome

One of the reasons I started this monster in the first place is so I could chronicle my journey to Japan and back. It's no red covered tome, but it's all I've got right now, so back off.

I think I will start at ... the beginning. What a surprise.

March 22, 2008: The thing I don't like about traveling alone on planes is that there is no one to talk to relieve the stress of situations like this one.

(Flash back)

On March 22, 2008 a snowstorm ripped through the upper Midwestern U.S., dumping considerable snow on such cities as Minneapolis and Milwaukee and Detroit. I don't care about any other cities that may have been impacted by this snow, because all I really care about is the fact that Minneapolis and Milwaukee getting hammered caused MY flight to Japan to be delayed so they could wait for the transferees to get to Detroit, because jets just don't take off for Japan every 3 or 4 hours. Well, by the time the Minneapolis people got to Detroit, it was snowing in Detroit. But we sat on the plane for 6 hours. Six. During which time they: played the same Grover Washington music between announcements from the Captain and crew;
played the same Grover Washington music between announcements from the Captain and crew;
knocked out the electrical with the de-icer;
fixed the electrical problem;
n the runway; sat on the runway and waited for another de-icer to come along; de-iced
again; knocked out the electrical

sat for awhile
decided we couldn't take off, the plows couldn't keep up with the snow on the long runway;
c r a w l e d back to the jetway;
sat in the plane for 2 more hours while the people inside the terminal got their ducks in a row (which, when translated, means getting the cheapest possible rates out of the shabbiest possible hotels in the area)

See, I at least made it interesting. It wasn't. At all. And the woman behind me was just frantic that her child would freak because he thought the Easter Bunny wouldn't know where he was on Sunday. Don't ever call me combative or blunt, because I was just as tactful as it is possible to be in that situation. I absolutely did NOT tell that boy that there is no Easter Bunny. But I wanted to. Put that mother out of my misery RIGHT NOW. At least he was WITH his mother.

What made it worse (could that be?) is that my cell phone was losing power fast and the charger was IN THE SUITCASE IN THE PLANE'S CARGO HOLD. So, any communication had to be terse, and only to my hero hubby, who then relayed info on to my daughter in Japan. Playing telephone, with a, um, telephone.

I did learn a few really cool Japanese words, but I won't share them here. It would be embarrassing and in very poor taste.

I spent the night, not on a plane bound for Osaka, but in a crappy hotel room that I upgraded to a jacuzzi room (shoulda never done that) so I could have a relax from 6 HOURS ON A PLANE GOING NOWHERE.

We did not leave until 11 a.m. the next day.
The charger I bought at the airport did NOT work in my phone.

But the Cyber cafe in Concourse A, right next to gate 28 has the best mango smoothies (made fresh) you could ever hope to find.


Now that I have this monster I've created, I have to feed it. And tend it. Clean and dress it up and then compare it to all the other little monsters out there.


09 April 2008


Okay, so they give you this random question to answer when you set up the blog. But it's not published anywhere, and I slaved over the answer, so here it is:

"For your birthday, your aunt gave you a maple syrup dispenser shaped like a rooster. Please write her a thank-you note:
Dear Aunt Flora, Thank you so much for the colorful birthday present. Although roosters have not been a part of my home decor, it is nevertheless a unique gift. Who would've thought that there was such a thing as a countertop pancake syrup dispenser? I know that each and every time I serve pancakes to my diabetic husband, I will remember you. Thanks again, CLU"


Okay, this will really be about the uguisu.
I never knew this bird existed. Now I'm wondering what other treasures of the animal kingdom there are out there that I don't know about and it's driving me crazy. Although, as they say, it really is just a short putt.
The uguisu is a bird that lives on the Japanese Islands. It's associated with the blooming of the ume (plum trees) and with hanami. I have also learned since (from Wikipedia, so if this is wrong please let me know) that an uguisu-jō is a female announcer hired for her warbling voice. Green and therefore difficult to see in the trees except in the early spring, it is so small and quick that it is said to be difficult to photograph. By everyone except ME. They live in the trees behind my daughter's apartment, and by standing on her clothes drying balcony, I could get clear shots with my husband's last year Christmas present from me: a 12 megapixel digital camera. 12. Twelve. One dozen. Megapixels. Those big pixels caught the uguisu as clear, no, clearer than you could see it.
So, when I found a kit for making a paper banner that has uguisu on it, well, I just had to buy it. And put it together within my first week back!
Photo follows for my daughter's viewing pleasure.

Japan, Children and Dilettantes

I recently returned home from my first (and more than likely, only) trip to Japan.

I thought that after almost half a century I had seen pretty much all I wanted to. I'm fairly satisfied that I've seen most of the U.S. I will more than likely see the parts I haven't yet. I have been a voyeur into other parts of the world. A dilettante, if you will. I know a lot about a lot of places, but haven't experienced much of it, except vicariously. I've been to France and Switzerland once - for 2 weeks in high school and have lived on that one ever since!

Then, my daughter moved to Japan. Temporarily.

Let me digress for a moment. The thing about mothers is this: they have a great need to know how their children are living. Even when it means traveling halfway around the world to see it. I suppose it's the shared experience thing. "I gave birth to you, we experienced that together, it goes both ways when you grow up!" maybe. Maybe it's just sheer nosiness. Whatever it is, this mother couldn't stand not sharing in the way her daughter has been living for the past 18 months!

Soooo, my hubby who, as I have stated, is my hero, gave me a 2 week trip to Japan to go bug, er, visit her. As we are in biz for ourselves, he had to stay and slave away so we could afford the trip. What a man!

My daughter never knew that Shogun by James Clavell was one of my all-time favorite novels when I was - uh - quite a bit younger than I am now. In fact, that was my sole teacher of Japanese until my daughter taught me while I was in Japan. I knew wakarimaska? wakarimas and wakarimasen along with hai, iye and the -san, -sama thing for the longest time, never divulging that little gem to my kiddos. Imagine that. Me, with a secret! So, when planning this little junket, of course, Tokyo wasn't even factored in. I wanted to see Osaka and Kyoto and points south. And generally, I get what I want. Unless it's not that important, and then I don't care.

Really, I thought that I would not at all like it. After all, as far as I knew, it was terribly overcrowded, they eat raw horse flesh for Pete's sake AND blow fish (and absolutely everyone knows that blow fish can kill you) not to mention the octopi and squid and seaweed! Oh, and those chicken livers wrapped in bacon. Ugh. I also just really don't do well sleeping on the floor. Of course, I also knew that in their favor, they don't eat dogs and love dachshunds as pets. I guess I really didn't know what to expect, but expected that I did know what to expect, which is the way my brain usually rolls.

I absolutely LOVED it. I adore Japan. More than that, I adore the people. And I apologize to more than one person from those islands for making reference to or joking about something that went totally over their heads!

I loved the food, too. Of course, my daughter, who is very wise (often) steered to me the "safest" food. I have lived long enough to know that raw fish is just not me. Not after getting worms from poorly cooked (translated: almost raw) fish when I was three, which I don't remember, but do remember being told about so many times that I don't eat raw fish. I did try the tuna sashimi just so I could convince her that I did try it. Nah. Not my, uh, cup of tea. Speaking of which, I adore mugi-cha. Buckwheat tea. And melon-pan. A (evidently) Portuguese style of sweet bread that is shaped somewhat like a melon, although that may not be why it's called melon-pan and is called that for some other reason.

This has gone on long enough. More later, dear readers. Sayonara.