Archive for March, 2008

Imperial Palace Garden

Mark and I took Noah to the Imperial Palace on Thursday. We’d been there once before, but the last time we went it was on the day we were leaving Tokyo to go to Kyoto so we spent a rushed half hour zipping through the grounds. This time around we had the whole day to loll away so we took our time. At one point we came across a big grassy expanse bordered by some gorgeous cherry blossoms:

So we thought it would be a good place to hunker down. We found a comfy spot, plopped ourselves down and let Noah run wild.

Oh, to be young and carefree again. It was such a blast just sitting and watching Noah play and enjoy himself. Kids at play are just so different than adults. They don’t have that self-consciousness and dread of doing something embarrassing that seems to hamper my enjoyment at times — they’re just out to have fun.
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March 29, 2008 at 2:11 am Leave a comment

Baseball in Japan, part II

My last baseball post was a little incomplete. In the retelling of events, I sort of left out just how cool Tokyo Dome really is. I refuse to play favorites and say Japanese stadiums rock harder than U.S. stadiums or vice versa, but let me share what I think were some of the awesome things about it:

1. Security
Ok, not really something that’s usually on anyone’s list, but the security guards there were so nice. They were very polite when they realized I didn’t understand a word that they were saying and one of them actually asked me for permission to search my bag. “Awww, well since you asked so nicely, of course you can search me for explosive devices.”

2. Alcohol and Beer Girls

Ok, can you see what’s in her hand? Liquor. In those little bottles you find in minibars and airplanes. That’s how they sell them! And you see the girl in green directly in front of her? She’s a beer girl. She walks around the stadium with a keg on her back selling beer on tap. How cool is that?! In another life I want to be a beer girl…or at least I want that backpack.
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March 27, 2008 at 11:53 pm 4 comments

Baseball in Japan

The Oakland A’s are in town. They held a couple of exhibition games against a local Japanese team and today they played the last game of their opening series against the Boston Red Sox here at the Tokyo Dome. Being the rabid A’s fan that he is, Mark arranged a couple months ago to buy tickets for this game so tonight we went, along with a five other people that Mark works with.

Since clients were coming, public transportation was out of the question and being that it is rather difficult to score a regular car that seats eight people comfortably, Mark ended up renting a limo for the night. Not just a regular limo mind you, but a white Hummer stretch limo. When it came to pick me and Noah up, they actually had to arrange an alternate pickup spot for us because it was too big to fit down the street of the apartment. Nice, right? Noah enjoyed the ride thoroughly — jumping from seat to seat, running(!!) down the length of the car, messing with the tvs and playing with the bar.

Here’s a picture of a couple of cute A’s fans I came across: (more…)

March 27, 2008 at 3:22 am 2 comments

Sunshine City Aquarium

Noah loves aquariums.

Ok, let me say that again because that fact cannot be overstated enough…Noah LOVES aquariums. And to that end, we try to take him to an aquarium pretty much everywhere we travel — Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand…you might call him an aquarium connoisseur. (On the other hand, his knowledge of fish species is severely limited. Things are either sharks, Nemo fish or Dory fish. With the occasional distinction of a Daddy Nemo or Baby Nemo.)

So on Tuesday I decided to take him to Sunshine City Aquarium in Tokyo. It’s one of three aquariums in Tokyo, but this one was the most accessible one to us by train. This aquarium also has the distinction of being the highest in the world, located as it is on the 10th floor of a high rise building.

Well, first of all, easy commute my ass. It took 30 minutes on two trains plus another 30 minutes by foot (or stroller if you’re Noah) to get there…and all that walking was completely within the massive shopping complex called Sunshine City. Sunshine City is two blocks from the train station…the aquarium is at the very back of the appropriately named “city”. But I digress…

Whatever trouble we had getting there was completely worth it once we got inside. Noah was so excited to see all the tanks and there was a small zoo section outside the aquarium. He ran from display to display, barely stopping at each one before spotting something else and running to it while yelling, “Mommy! Mommy! Look at this! Look at this!” His excitement was contagious and was the reason we ended up staying for an hour and a half.

Here are some pictures from our trip…

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March 26, 2008 at 3:36 pm Leave a comment

Day Three — An American in Tokyo

Like I said before, I am not assimilating very well.

Yes, at Day Three, it may be too early to tell for sure, but the early warning signs are not looking too good.

Mark had to work all day today so Noah and I hit the town on our own. Our first stop of the day…nice, American Starbucks…where I managed to place my order for a latte, hot cocoa, muffin and cinnamon roll completely in English. Thank god for bilingual Japanese workers.

After a late nap and lunch, we headed out to another great Japanese site: Tokyo Midtown — an upscale shopping complex a couple of blocks from my apartment with wonderful Japanese standards such as Manhattan Deli, Madison Park Cafe, and Nirvana New York.

Here is Noah having a Strawberry Milk at Dean & Deluca:

And later, I let him run around like a maniac to burn off some steam:

You might think this is a play structure but it’s not. In fact, before Noah and his new playmate decided to defile it, I’m pretty sure it was an important piece of art at some point:

I also managed my first Japanese earthquake today just like a hardened Californian…which is to say, I didn’t budge. Unless something is falling I usually don’t move for anything less than a 6.0 (today’s quake clocked in at 5.3). In fact I was chatting with a friend on YIM when it happened. I waited out the ten seconds for it to pass and then continued my chat (Mom, don’t freak out — Noah was safe in bed and slept through it). My friend, a California expat living in Australia, responded to my news of the quake by saying “I miss earthquakes.” See? Hardened Californians, I tell ya.

Anyway, on the plus side, I did end my nice American day with a home-cooked meal of tonkatsu. Plus I made Noah watch all his regular Disney shows in Japanese rather than turning on the English audio track. So it’s not like I’m not trying. I’m sure tomorrow will be better.

March 24, 2008 at 11:43 pm 2 comments

Cherry Blossoms

I’m a little confused as to when peak cherry blossom season is. A lot of sources I’ve read indicate that I’ve missed it by about a week. We went to Ueno Park today though and apparently I haven’t missed it completely:

March 23, 2008 at 10:15 pm 1 comment

On Assimilation

Before we left for Japan, the biggest thing that I was worried about was the language barrier. Actually, “language barrier” is a bit of a misnomer since it’s really my inability to speak anything besides English that I was worried about. I did make an honest attempt to learn Japanese before we left though — three different Japanese language cds and two language books attest to this — but it just isn’t sticking. Actually, I’m pretty sure that I can speak Japanese. I have many, many Japanese words and phrases floating around in my head just waiting for me to blurt them out. Unfortunately, what they mean is completely lost to me.

Another problem for me has to do with the fact that any time someone speaks to me in Japanese my brain completely goes to pieces. For example, we had dinner a couple weeks ago with one of Mark’s Japanese clients who was in Hong Kong. I had my introduction ready and had been practicing it all day long.

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March 23, 2008 at 9:59 pm 1 comment

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