Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ninja house and museum

After seeing the ninja show, we went on to the ninja house and museum.  

Here is a description of many of the tricks of the ninja house:
We got to try out some of the tricks, like the revolving door, that M is trying here:

We also got to try opening the gimmick door and hidden box.

Then in the museum, M is trying out the devices for walking on muck - kind of like snowshoes, they spread your weight out so you don't sink in.
Then both kids wanted to try out climbing the rope ladder.  They were both quite good at it.
M's turn at the rope ladder.



Ninja show

After our stay in Kyoto, we were headed to Nagoya. But we had a planned detour along the way - Iga Ueno, where there is a ninja museum. Unfortunately the train station is not particularly close to the museum and the bus service only runs once an hour. So we set out on foot. Another unfortunate - the musuem and castle complex isn't well marked (or marked at all in English) on the way there. We could see the hill where it all was and just headed out in roughly that direction.

Once we got there it was well worth it. We were just in time for the ninja show. Luckily it was in English and Japanese.

Here is one of the ninjas with a sword.

Another cool ninja tool. I have no idea what these are called.

After the show, there was an opportunity to try your hand at throwing the throwing stars. Here M is trying his hand.

And on his second set of throwing stars, he had good success! Way to go M!

Here's A trying:

Afterwards, the ninjas kindly posed for pictures.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Japanese TV silliness

We turned on the TV one morning to see what Japanese TV was like.  We found some rather amusing shots.  We're not quite sure why the large bunny was helping with the weather report.

Ditto the bear? panda? here.  It was also on the morning news show.

M thought he needed a photo of the new iPhone.  We saw loads of people in line for the iPhone when we were in Tokyo.
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Monday, July 28, 2008

night festival procession

In conjunction with the procession we saw in the afternoon, there was another procession in the evening, where they brought out the portable shrine, below:

As you can see, there were many, many men carrying the shrine.

There were also guys carrying these burning bundles of bamboo.

These remind me a bit of jack-o-lanterns, mostly I guess because they are orange.
More burning bundles of bamboo. They processed down the street to the bridge, where they proceeded to set down the burning bamboo and the portable shrine and chant. They took over the bridge for at least half an hour before they picked everything back up and headed back to the shrine. Some of the crowd fell in behind the procession and joined it.
This evening procession we just lucked into seeing. We hadn't known anything about it. We were headed down the street on the bus to go out to dinner and the route was really slow. Finally at one point the driver stopped (at least 20 minutes from the last stop - and these stops were 4-5 blocks apart) and opened the doors. The entire bus emptied out! It didn't matter that we weren't at our stop - it was definitely faster to walk at that point.
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Sunday, July 27, 2008

more photos of the festival procession

I'm not quite sure what the significance of the red wigs is, but I'm sure there must be some.

We thought the procession had ended. In fact some cars had come through when, whoops, here comes more procession. Several kids on horseback. You can see the traffic coming alongside the procession. I thought that was one of the strangest things - the traffic kept moving all during the procession!

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festival in Gion

There was a festival in Kyoto, right in front of the shrine we had just been at, on our last day in Kyoto. It was very frustrating though - no one seemed to know anything about exactly where the parade/procession would go.

Here is the start of the procession:

Little boys dressed up. As samurai?

These girls were dressed as swans. Initially they had their arms upraised and they had "feathers". It was very pretty, but I never saw them do it again so I could get a photo.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Shrine in Gion

I think this is the Choin-in shrine, right next to Yasaka (actually I know that's where it is, but not sure of the name). It's in Gion.

Here we are having a cool ice cream treat.  D and I were brave and opted for the mixed vanilla/green tea ice cream.  The kids went for straight vanilla.  A did consent to taste my green tea ice cream.  For the record, its not bad, but better mixed with vanilla than plain.  Not too sweet, but then nothing in Japan really is.  Mostly I like it better that way.

I liked the way I could frame the gate in the arch.

Close up of the gate.
A with the back side of the gate.
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Friday, July 25, 2008

Buddhist cemetary

We found a Buddhist cemetary up behind Yasaka shrine. It was very interesting. It would have been very calm, but there were gardeners there with weedeaters and blowers, cleaning up.

Lovely flowers in the cemetary.

Up above the cemetary, we found a small temple.

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People watching in Japan

We saw various interesting sights while wandering around. The monks (?) complete with wooden geta were quite interesting to spot - especially in a 100 yen store.

Here are 2 geisha we spotted - though actually they are almost certainly 2 women dressed up like geisha.

Another geisha (?) waiting to cross the street. She was very tolerant and posed for a photo.

We saw this man sketching at Yasaka shrine.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008


A is off for another trip, globetrotter that he is.  He and my mom took off for London on Tuesday, not quite a week after we got back from Japan.  They will be visiting with my aunt in London and then going to a Elderhostel program together in Oxford - discussing children's literature - Harry Potter, Narnia, the Hobbit, His Dark Materials, among others.  A has been reading much of this material over the last year (and so has my mom).  

My mom took M on a big trip to London when he was in 4th grade, during February break - which they both thought was a wonderful trip, but cold and dreary.  She has said all along that she would take A also, but not in Feb. again.  So when she saw this trip and knew how much A likes Harry Potter, she arranged to take him.  Only, due to our trip to Japan, she had to plan for the end of July here - where A will actually miss the first week of school.  Oh horrors!  Not like they will do anything useful the first week anyway.

I talked to A and he is having a great time - they saw the tower of London today.  I hope they are taking lots of photos so I can see them when they get back.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Through Buddha's Nose

As promised, here are videos of the kids climbing through the hole the same size as Buddha's nose on the great statue.

I tried to go through the hole, but my shoulders were too wide.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Great Buddha in Nara

Here we all are in front of the Great Buddha's hall. It is the largest wooden structure in the world. 157 feet tall by 187 feet wide-and yet it is only 2/3 the size of the original hall that burned: this hall was built in 1709.

The Great Buddha. 53 foot tall bronze statue.

Our volunteer English speaking guide in front of a lotus blossom from the original statue.

I have some video of the kids climbing through Buddha's nose (ok, really of them climbing through a hole the same size as Buddha's nostril), but it won't upload from this computer.  Hopefully tomorrow I can try from the other computer.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Jet Lag

Sorry for the lack of posts.  I had great plans to put up more photos, but I'm suffering serious sleep deprivation.  I woke up this morning at 2am.  Ugghhh.  And this after a brief awakening at midnight (and going to sleep around 10pm).  Believe me, I tried to go back to sleep at 2, but it just wasn't happening.  In fact, we had a family gathering, me, both kids and both cats in the living room at 4:30 am.  I don't know how the kids aren't dragging, but they and D have been "not sleepy" at night.  Me, I'm so tired I can barely function, but I'm not letting myself go to bed too early or I know I will perpetuate the cycle.  Long about now I'm wondering though.  It might be ok to be awake or asleep at weird times of day if I could just SLEEP.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Homeward Bound

This is our final morning in Japan. Our flight heads out mid. afternoon, so we have our find packing up to do (and a visit to the 100 yen shop to use up the last bit of money-and get souvenirs that we didn't have to lug around the rest of the trip).

I think we are all ready to come home now. It's been a wonderful trip, but 2 weeks is long enough. The kids can't wait to get home to see our cats. I can't wait to sleep in my own bed. Futons have not made for very restful sleeping for me - especially not for so long-8 nights on futons and tatami, is too much for me. D and the kids seemingly are doing fine with it.

I have lots more pictures to post sometime. I'm not sure how long it will take me to get them all up - or whether I will lose steam before I finish. I have about 1000 photos to sort through.


Deer at Nara

One of the big thing to see and do at Nara is the deer. They are very tame - well, except when you have deer crackers - then they get very pushy and insistent.

M has the deer following him around.
A has several deer wanting to get in on the food.

Even D and I fed the deer a few crackers (no pictures of the photographer though).

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