Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Akihabara Again 2016

Monday afternoon, we decided we should go back to Akihabara in the daytime. Andrew had over many Skype meetings told us about the Maid Cafes and how they highlighted the weirdness special to Japan. Andrew still hadn't had lunch and his favorite kabobs were nearby.

Akihabara, Tokyo 2016
It's appropriate that Andrew's favorite kabob stand is under a big maid cafe sign.

Akihabara, Tokyo 2016
This is the happiness Andrew experiences when eating a kabob.

Akihabara, Tokyo 2016
Japanese version of a kabob does look yummy.

Akihabara, Tokyo 2016
Akihabara in the daytime- way more fun than at night.

We went to a maid cafe in the Don Quijote building. It's called the At Home Cafe because they pretend you're coming home and they are your maids. Techinically, you're not allowed to take pictures in a maid cafe but this is strange because there are maids promoting the cafes in the street, and because there are promotional videos on youtube.

Akihabara, Tokyo 2016
Maid from some other cafe

Akihabara, Tokyo 2016<
Picture of Andrew's coffee (bear) and mine (me) at maid cafe. Maid in background. 

Maid cafes are extremely difficult to explain. They focus on the art of kawaii or cuteness. They cater to lonely men, young silly girls, and confused tourists. Some of the lonely men converse with the maids or play the occasional game of Connect Four with them. The maids serve you drinks and then cast spells on them. Tourists pay extra for pictures with maids. In a creepy twist you pick your favorite maid off a menu and pictures with highly requested maids cost extra. You take these pictures on a stage so that everyone at the cafe can watch your kawaii shame. I did some soul-searching and for the first time I passed on a picture opportunity. For further explanation (why would you need more explanation?) I'm embedding a youtube video:


You might experience disorientation after this- especially if you're a New Yorker.

We decided to round out our second Akihabara visit with a FuRyu photobooth. We found one in the basement of an arcade. You take some pictures which the machine automatically photoshops- giving you makeup and bigger eyes so if you're a Westerner you look a little alien-like. Then you have additional editing choices when you exit the booth like backgrounds, text, and stickers. However all the editing had Japanese directions so we gave up after a while.

Akihabara, Tokyo 2016
Kevin and Andrew in the arcade.

Akihabara, Tokyo 2016
We got a purple heart background on this one.

Akihabara, Tokyo 2016
But we couldn't figure out how to decorate this one. Except for the floor.

Akihabara, Tokyo 2016
Trying to use the editing machine.

Akihabara, Tokyo 2016
Examining the finished result in the photobooth area.

Finally it was naptime! (Or Sunday night bedtime in the US, depending on your point of view.)

Ueno Park in Tokyo 2016

So, I'm still on Monday morning. We walked over to Ueno Park in the Taito Special Ward of Tokyo. There are a lot of things to do in Ueno Park. There are several museums, a zoo, many temples and shrines, and the park itself is beautiful. We planned on going to the National Museum there on Tuesday (because it's not open on Monday) but it worked out that we explored the park Monday because it ended up raining on Tuesday.

Ueno Park, Tokyo 2016
Andrew leading us to Ueno Park

Ueno Park, Tokyo 2016
Fountains at Ueno Park

There are was a great Buddhas in this area created by a feudal lord but in 1647 an earthquake destroyed the statue. A second great Buddha was built but in 1923, another earthquake destroyed the statue. Only the face of the second Buddha remains at the Kan-eiji Temple.

Ueno Great Buddha 2016
Ueno Daibutsu (Great Buddha and Pagoda)

Ueno Great Buddha 2016
Ueno Daibutsu (Great Buddha and Pagoda)

Inari is a deity with shrines and Buddhist temples throughout most of Japan. The entrance to an Inari shrine is usually marked by one or more red torii and some statues of foxes (kitsune), which are often adorned with red bibs (yodarekake) by worshippers out of respect. The main shrine is the Fushimi Inari-taisha in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto (we went there later in the trip).

Hanazono Inari Shrine 2016
Hanazono Inari Shrine

Hanazono Inari Shrine 2016
Torii tunnel leading to Hanazono Inari Jinja (Hanazono Inari Shrine)

Hanazono Inari Shrine 2016
Hanazono Inari Shrine

Hanazono Inari Shrine 2016
Kevin and Andrew posing with a fox at the Hanazono Inari Shrine worship hall

Hanazono Inari Shrine 2016
The Hanazono Inari Shrine worship hall

Hanazono Inari Shrine 2016
The Ana Inari Shrine (Hole Inari) built for a displaced fox

Hanazono Inari Shrine 2016
Kevin is a bit tall for this shrine

We wandered around for a while more, seeing more things we couldn't identify at the time, but I googled when we got home.

Ueno Park, Tokyo 2016
View down to Shinobazu Pond at Ueno Park

Kiyomizu Kannondo, Tokyo 2016
Kiyomizu Kannondo

We went for lunch at the nearby Tsukiji Sushi-gen Honten. Andrew doesn't really like sushi so he made our green tea and then we went to a different neighborhood for one of his favorite meals (next post).

Tsukiji Sushi-gen Honten 2016
Andrew making our green tea at Tsukiji Sushi-gen Honten

Tsukiji Sushi-gen Honten 2016
Quick lunch at Tsukiji Sushi-gen Honten

Tsukiji Sushi-gen Honten 2016
I ate this: salmon, Ikura (salmon eggs) and a mystery fish on rice.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Grandma and Nancy Visit 2016

Grandma and Nancy 2016

This trip to Japan was brought to you by Grandma and Aunt Nancy who babysat for an entire week. An entire week! They didn't just phone it in on the couch either- the kids probably had the best week of their lives. You can judge for yourself though as it was documented.

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Saturday, May 14- At the park!

Grandma and Nancy 2016
This one thinks scaling is more fun than playing.

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Sunday morning- Week-long wake-ups with Nancy = bonding.

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Caught jumping on the bed.

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Sunday chocolate shakes

Grandma and Nancy 2016

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Monday, bubbles and bubbleguns

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Monday Coldstone Creamery

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Tuesday shopping

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Ice cream cones on the deck.

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Wednesday- Mary's here.

Grandma and Nancy 2016''
Sandbox

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Thursday, May 19

Grandma Lunch
Thursday restaurant with Grandma and...

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Nancy and Mary

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Bakery for dessert because spoiled

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Time to go to the fair!

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Seriously! They went to a fair! Boat!

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Race car!

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Coming out the fun house slide.

Friday James had show-and-tell and Grandma and Kathy encouraged him to bring an owl toy and prepped him with lots of owl facts. Tiger Grandmas! After school it was time to go to the beach.

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Miranda and Grandma

Grandma and Nancy 2016
James, Mary, Nancy

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Bubbles!

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Bike-riding

Saturday they went to a farm and vineyard. And poor Grandma and Aunt Nancy even passed on the wine. 

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Chicks at the farm

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Alpaca

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Play house

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Bunny

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Petting sheep

Grandma and Nancy 2016
Playhouse

James and Miranda had the time of their lives! Thanks again, Grandma and Aunt Nancy! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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