Thursday, May 29, 2008

Countdown to June 7.

I guess the countdown really begins with just 8 days to go huh? Wow, seems unreal to me, as this house and neighborhood have become home.

It is so humid and fragrant here this time of year.

Quite lovely. Preparing mentally for the semi-arid environment.

Packing. thankfully we don't have to actually pack things in boxes, the movers will do that. But like many people, we tend to collect a lot of crap, and I don't want to transport that back home and add it to all the other stuff crammed in the storage room. Lots of sorting being done.

The kids have entered into their final exams. Everyone is busy and excited.
So I thought that I'd post some random photos of Japan, seeing that I never really got around to that.

By the way, if anyone would like me to bring some tasty dried sea critters (or what not) back to the US, I'd be happy to. Please get your requests in soon. Some of you have some favorites,
otherwise just suggest 'ocean surprise.'

A Japanese wedding procession

bride and groom

Mt Fuji, last March, with Annika in the foreground

A typical beautifully wrapped gift

sashimi in the local grocery

incense at Kamakura

I have a hunch this guy is praying for cheese

This is a short clip of an outdoor performance we went to when my brother Steve was here. An Australian group travels around and performs this acrobatic type dancing/movement etc., to music, while harnessed to these bendable poles. Really interesting and different. Have never seen anything like it. So much fun to watch. Apparently, the music in this clip is Finnish, so Steve says.

Off to bed.

Final thoughts and goodbyes to Japan coming soon, very soon.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

The home stretch

Less than 1 month to go. Hard to believe.

I will start this entry with some very sad news.
Ira's dear mother Sylvia passed away 2 weeks ago. We were hoping we would be able to see her upon our return to the US next month. But it wasn't meant to be.
She had entered hospice and was suffering terribly, and her time had come. Ira flew to Florida for her funeral, and this upcoming summer there will be another service that we will attend on the East coast for all other family and friends from the NYC area.
Ira has been so strong the past few months. He has really been suffering as well. It was amazing the loving attention he was able to give his mother over the past 6 months while being all the way on the other side of the earth. He really has done such a tremendous job in every area of his life during this crisis, I just know I would have crumbled.
So admirable.
My brother Steve, his wife Judy and son Karl were here, right in the middle of this and despite it being the lowest point of our stay here in Japan I think they had a good time. An interesting time. They had pretty much zero jet-lag due to some miracle pills (why did I never hear about these in my 20 something overseas flights?) Called "No jet-lag" I think.

Trick question: can you spot the foreigners on the train?
I can, but really, if they both just closed their eyes, slumped their heads & necks over like a contortionist and went to sleep, I think it'd be hard to distinguish them from a local. :-) . Oh wait. The suspenders (that I happen to really like) may give Stevie away. But so close to blending right in.
On our way to Kabuki-za theatre in Ginza, which never happened.
After all the fuss about getting out of the house early enough to be one of the 1st in line, catching trains, making transfers & fare adjustments etc, we get all the way to the theatre and its CLOSED that day.
A very usual and typical frustration here, even though you may take every precaution for that kind of thing to *not* happen! (explanation on Kabuki farther down).
So we cruised around fancy Ginza, which has some of the most expensive (if not thee most) real estate in the world--something like 9 million USD per square ft.
Stopped into the Sony building to see all the latest state-of-the-art cool electronic stuff, i.e, cameras, walkmen, video etc. A place where I think teenage boys might appreciate most. And for only $400 US, you can buy one of these.

I got a good long laugh and actually wanted to buy one for a few minutes.
Also took a stroll to the Imperial Palace/ grounds. It was very exciting to see a corner of the palace roof and partial window behind the foliage. :-) Sadly, there were no Imperial family
sightings. Apparently, they come out twice a year and wave to people from the balcony.

Here is Stevie, after finding out how much his lunch costs

is a traditional Japanese form of theatre, known for the elaborate make-up and stylized drama. The plays are about historical events, conflicts, and love relationships. Very slow moving, the actors (all men) speak in a very monotonous voice and in an old-fashioned form of Japanese that sometimes make it difficult for even the japanese to understand. I find it very interesting. Too slow moving for many though.

There are no cameras allowed in kabuki, (and they are watching you) but last week while visiting a museum in Tokyo there was a mock kabuki stage set up, fake figures and all, so here is an idea of what it looks like. I have to say, the costumes and lighting are exact! Now just throw in some funky japanese string instruments, a gong, and some odd, slow, incomprehensible whining, and you're there!
Really disappointed they missed it, I think it is such a unique activity. I am really gung-ho over kabuki-za. Emphasis on ho and za. I have been chanting it for the past hour.
Another new quote for me-- gung-HO on kabuki-ZA. That's how I feel today. A state of mind.


No I don't talk politics on this blog. It's strictly goofiness.  I am a few thousand miles behind on all most political issues anyway.  Is that wrong? I have found that my quote for 2008 is "lighten up". because when you are overseas with 4 kids and a husband that you don't see much, things can get pretty darn serious every dang day from time to time. So, I keep telling myself to lighten up, and have even found that my art work is starting to become (even more) wacky. I need to keep a smile on my face.

Moving on, I just received an email last night from my brother Kevin, who has arrived with his loaded bicycle in China.
So, there is a BLOGGING RESTRICTION in all of China and he cannot blog about his bike trip while there. Can you believe it? There are something like 10,000 technicians manning this, and it's illegal. So, he will be emailing me his posts while in China, and I will be posting them (once I figure it out in about a month) for him. (should I charge him, and how much?!)

My 50th post.