Year of the Snake

2013_snake

My apologies to all of my dedicated readers (Mom)…it has been quite a while since I’ve given an update on my Japanese adventure.  Well, just to put it out there; I’m alive, I’m well and I still love the journey I am on.

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Love my sister!

I was fortunate enough to start off the Year of the Snake with my favorite woman in the world, my Mama-san.  We arrived in Tokyo on the last day of 2012 with a bundle of luggage and one unhappy Bassett Hound.  We all made it to our new home safely which qualifies the journey as a success, but I can honestly say that I would never do that to him (or myself) again.  Stressful is an understatement!  First of all, Laura, Mom, Rufus and I all spent the night in “The City by the Bay” since we were flying out of SFO.

Gotta love self-timer photos!  Overlooking Fisherman's Wharf...although you can't really tell :)

Gotta love self-timer photos! Overlooking Fisherman’s Wharf…although you can’t really tell 🙂

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Love the streets of San Francisco

On the morning of our flight we miscalculated our departure time by about 40 minutes, which put us in quite a flurry from the get-go.  Then we couldn’t find the damn on-ramp for the freeway we needed.  We could see it and we drove under it 10 times, but we couldn’t figure out how the hell to actually get on the damn thing.  Imagine three “somewhat” controlling females trying to navigate in unknown territory with one about to have a full blown panic attack….it wasn’t pretty.  Finally, our collaborative efforts figured it out and we were able to exhale.  Upon arrival at the airport the lovely All Nippon Airlines staff were waiting patiently for us as we bombarded our way through the front doors with all of our baggage and a rather large dog kennel in tow. Phew.  Paperwork was in order and all that was left was to actually relinquish responsibility of my boo bear to people I didn’t know.  That was tough.  I won’t mention that my sister kept the van parked in the drop-off zone and was “this” close to being arrested as a terrorist…oops…I just did.  Sorry, Laura, I threw you under the bus!  Despite the stress of getting him here; the endless paperwork, cost and traumatic toll, I am so happy to have him here.  I finally feel at home.

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On our daily walk through the cemetery. He’s so handsome!

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He’s even meeting friends!

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Ummmm…I think he has adjusted well.

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Local Temple. Two minutes from my house.

New Year’s was an interesting experience.  Mom and I went to a colleague’s home for some drinks, snacks and catching up.  People were looking forward to meeting Mom and they knew how excited I was to have her here.  Right before midnight we walked over to the local temple where many of the neighborhood residents, including quite a few ASIJ teachers, gathered to “ring” in the New Year….literally.

Cathy ringing the bell

Cathy ringing the bell

A Japanese custom is to ring the bell at midnight on New Year’s to bring luck, or something like that.  I’ve actually already forgotten the true significance of it.  Like many other traditions, it’s really just an excuse to come together.  As we stood in line, a bonfire roared on the grounds of the temple and a hot beverage of some sort was served.  It’s one of the things I love so much about this journey; not always knowing exactly why you are doing what you’re doing, but enjoying the experience nonetheless.

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Mom looking too cute in her hot pink beanie and scarf.

Mom took residence here for about five weeks…and I loved it.  Seriously, I’m not just saying that because she is probably my only reader…I truly enjoyed having her here.  First of all, she is the easiest houseguest because she is just as happy staying in and watching a movie as getting out and seeing something new.  That was great for me because as a “new” teacher, I find that I am very busy and overwhelmed pretty much all the time, so I didn’t have to feel guilty about not making sure every moment was filled with seeing something new.  We still managed to do an awful lot in the time that she was here.

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Takeshita Street…home of the Harajuku girls. One of Mom’s favorite spots.

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Lots of sales going on. I’m not sure who actually buys this stuff!

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Mom cleansing before entering the temple.

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Harajuku girls in costume. They were flattered when Mom complemented them 🙂

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View from Tokyo Metropolitan Building. The looming tower is the Skytree Tower.

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Fuji-san’s shadow in the horizon.

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Shinjuku Station; the busiest station in the world.

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Outside of Asakusa Station. Asahi headquarters (the golden turd) and Skytree.

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Temple in Asakusa.

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Mom had a persistent cough…she went loca with the face mask. Most Japanese wear these when they are sick so they don’t spread their germs.

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Shibuya!! Home of the famous Shibuya crossing!

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Kamakura. I was ecstatic to discover that the ocean is just about an hour away!

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The Big Buddha in Kamakura.

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Tunnel of Lights in …somewhere in Japan. It was a great weekend, but too frickin cold to be outside!

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The pink tunnel!

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Lunch in Kamakura. Food was horrible, but the view was worth it.

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Mt Fuji

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Harajuku again…

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I think I’ll get Mom a pair of these for Christmas.

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Tea time at the architectural museum.

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uh-oh! Watch out Japan!

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Tokyo Museum of Art…El Greco exhibit.

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Conveyor belt sushi! So fun!

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Korean BBQ

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Homemade Soba noodles.

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Tokyo Cruise to Obaiba (man-made island).

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Silly game center in Odaiba.

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Great view of Rainbow Bridge.

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Odaiba has a Statue of Liberty…not sure why.

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Plastic sushi

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More plastic food.

I miss you, Mom, and if you and Foxy want to come and stay permanently, I would welcome you with open arms!  I also have a lovely backyard that Foxy would eventually learn to call home.