Sunday 30 August 2009

Bike Ride to Ueno Park

We decided that we wanted to go for a bike ride so went from our flat to Ueno park, not too far, took us about 45 minutes to get there, very flat roads so not a problem. In Japan everyone rides on the paths, this is good in one way (safer for kids) but it is also a bit of a pain as you are always weaving in and out and having to stop and start.

We stopped off on the way at a little shop to buy some food he had outside, chicken (I think/hope) and some fried prawns for Graham.

When we got to the park the kids wanted to go on the Swan boats so being nice parents we said OK (we had 30 minutes of peace while they had fun, perfect!!)

Whilst riding round the park we saw a man with a puppet, (see photos in gallery) very good!
In the pond there were these huge lillies, when we were here in April they were only small but now they are HUGE!! a really spectacular sight to see.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Japanese Language

Graham has now started his Japanese class and is having 3 hours twice a week and then when the kids start school he will increase to 5 days a week. He is doing well and seems to be able to hold a conversation, really impressed!

Mia and Gian are trying and can ask for 1 or 2 cokes or hot chocolate etc. and then there is me... OMG!! it is sooooo funny! I am really trying but for some reason I keep getting "hello" and "thank you" mixed up so in total Delboy style (only fools and horses for those non English folk reading this) when I have paid for something and they give me back my change I then look at them and confidently say "Konnichiwa" the look they give me is soooo funny and Gra says afterwards "you did it again"... we have laughed so hard with this... oh dear easily pleased!! :-)

First Haircut in Japan....

Mia and I decided to have our haircut today so went into a salon that the sign outside was in English and said "all the way from London"... hummm NOT!! When we went in not 1 person spoke English but it was very hard for us to leave (they had shown us to chairs and I couldn't say I wanted to leave even if I wanted to).. anyway, I decided to play safe and just have a "trim" and Mia wanted a "trim and curl" meaning, when drying and styling at the the end, put a little curl in... again, not understood and Mia now has a PERM!!! classic!! my hair doesn't look much different but Mia's does, (pics in the gallery). When she showed me to the sink to have my hair washed she sat me down and put the chair right back (not like in CH or GB) quite comfortable actually but then she put a cloth over my face and blankets over my legs.. apparently the cloth is because the Japanese are shy and they come very close to your face when washing your hair so this is to avoid embarrassment and the blanket it to protect the girls from showing their pants (the skirts are very short here) :-) anyway the girl then spent 20 mins washing my hair and I thought she was trying to kill me, it really hurt!! not very gentil. But she was very sweet and has done a nice cut so I wont complain.

Sunday 23 August 2009

New Bikes - Great!!

Well what can I say... WOW I have a new bike.. it really must be the BEST bike ever!! I feel like a 10 year old who has been given her first bike, I love it!! I have the Cannondale Quick 1 now how sexy is that!! I can lift my bike with 1 finger.. cool!! (because I know it is a necessity to do that)!! anyway I am Very Happy!!! thank you Grammy... :-) Graham has a new bike too (not as sexy as mine) but at least he can ride up a hill without stopping... I need a bit of practice but I will get there!!
PS: Iva/Pen we are trying to keep up the good work :-)

Trying out the Japanese health care system...

If our life isn't exciting enough, poor Graham was rushed to hospital at 4am this morning with extreme pain in his left side and vomiting.
It started about midnight and got worse slowly to start with but by 3:30am he was completely restless and pacing the bedroom (in between vomiting). I convinced him (not too hard as he was in so much pain) to call an ambulance, of course nothing for us is straight forward at the moment, so searching for the emergency no (119 by the way, mirror image of the American 911 for ease..) was our first port of call, then trying to explain in Japanese (whilst in pain) the symptoms and where we live. 15 mins later the ambulance arrived and took him away. I was petrified, I didn't know where he was being taken, what was wrong with him, when he would be back... fortunately he sent me a sms pretty quickly to say it was Kidney stones... clearly very painful but luckily treatable and not life threatening. He is now home, on pain killers and other tablets and will go back to the hospital tomorrow for more tests and treatment. We are so happy he is home and OK, spent most of the day in bed, hey what are Sundays for??

And our adventure continues ......

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Gians 9th Birthday

Gian is 9 today and we have just got home from Disney Tokyo. What a day! We woke up and Gian opened his cards and presents. (thank you very much for everyone who sent a card/pressie). He had a lovely new camera from his godfather, money from grandparents and "aunts" so he can now treat us to dinner :-) We then went to Disney for the day. It only takes 37 mins on the train so we were there in no time! We told the lady on the front desk it was Gian's birthday and they gave him a birthday sticker and everyone we passed clapped their hands and said "Happy Birthday" it was lovely and Gian liked all the attention (apart from the man who asked if he was 6 today) :-) oops!! It was very hot and humid and it seemed that everyone chose today to go to Disney, the queues were a nightmare!! We had to wait in line for 2 hours for Splash Mountain and it lasted all of 5 mins... We got the "fast pass" for space mountain so that wasn't too bad (apart from I hate roller coasters but said I would do it for Gian's birthday, so queued for hours for rides I am scared of) :-) Anyway.... we had a FAB day and left about 6:30, just as all the people arrived for the evening (1/2 price after 6pm) so were glad to get out!! I have been to Disney in Orlando a few times and have NEVER seen it so busy, there were people everywhere, all with Minnie ears on (the Japanese girls love that, young or old)!

Gian wanted to go to Tony Roma's for dinner, it is an American place that does pretty good seafood and fajitas. He still had his birthday sticker on so the girl said Happy Birthday and chatted a bit to Gian, at the end of the meal she brought an ice cream/cake with a candle and we all sang happy birthday, she then took a photo and put it in a card for him, really sweet. We now have to go for Mia's birthday...

When we got home he had a few skype sessions and was really pleased to chat to his good friends and family. We are all off to bed now, shattered!!!!

Saturday 15 August 2009


Baseball is the no 1 spectator sport of Japan and they are no 1 in the world so not surprisingly Baseball is huge over here. We have already been to the batting cage to hit (or try to hit in my case) some balls, then we have been to watch a few Sunday friendly games which is fun. We are going to book some tickets to see a professional game and join in with the over excited Japanese screaming! Tomorrow we are going to have some more practice at the batting cage.... Sunday will be our baseball day for a while... until Sep when I want to see the sumo...

Friday 14 August 2009

The unbearable humidity!!

Just realised that anyone I have spoken to has heard about the unbearable heat/humidity we have here so thought I had better share on the blog!

Well it is bloody hot and bloody horrible..... ok I have said it!!

You see a lot of girls with umbrellas to shield them from the sun... what sun!! there is no sun!! just grey sky and HOT!!! you walk out the door and sweat! women shouldn't sweat, its just not nice.. choosing your clothes in the morning is "what can I wear today that wont show sweat stains" hummmm nice!! Anyway... alot of people carry a flannel or handkerchief to mop up the sweat, have bought myself one of these and a very stylish fan.... only another 6 weeks of this.. yea!!!

Tokyo Dome

The Tokyo Dome is a stadium for baseball (no 1 sport here in Japan) and it also has held lots of concerts including Madonna and Michael Jackson. There is also so much more to do there which we are finding out. We are really lucky that the Dome is just 20 mins walk from our apartment, so really easy to get to. We went there one evening to go bowling with the kids, boy do the Japanese know how to have fun, there were about 30 lanes nearly all taken with big groups of business men and women (mostly young girls, maybe assistants) and older men but all looked very cool and comfortable with each other. Every time one got a strike they all gave "high fives" very funny!!
Another day we went to the amusement park. It has lots of different rides etc and you can either buy a wrist band and go on everything or pay per ride (I should have done that). The kids definitely got their moneys worth, Gra just made it and I was pathetic... I went on a few rides and one was so funny, it was called the "sky flower" A parachute-type attraction going up and down from a height of 61 meters to the ground, commanding a magnificent view of city streets and buildings, not fast or anything so I thought I would be OK, OMG 61 meters is very high!!! my legs turned to jelly and I couldn't look!! very funny though, guests will have to go on it!!!!
We are going to get tickets to go and see a baseball game so hopefully that should be fun!! will keep you posted.

3 earthquakes in a week..... Help!!

Before we moved here to Tokyo we were told of the earthquakes and Typhoons and anyone who know me, also knows I have a really bad fear for wind so my main fear was of the typhoons, I even said to Graham "oh the earthquakes don't worry me, how bad can they be" well the answer is VERY BAD!!! 3 in one week.... what!!!

Sunday was the first one, we were on skype to Grahams parents in the UK and we felt some movement, at first I thought it was kids downstairs running up and down the corridor and then I looked at the coffee I had made and it started moving and then coming out of the cup, and then the whole building started moving, side to side as if someone was shaking it. I was very scared and all I could do was sit on the floor and wait for it to be over. I felt sorry for Grahams parents as I couldn't even talk so Graham had to hang up the call and come and sit with me. Then Gian came running in, saying "WOW that was the best thing that has happened since we have been here" typical!!! I wasn't going to scare him with the "what could have happened" it didn't and we are all fine. This was rated at 7.1
Tuesday was the 2nd one, we were all set for a trip to Kanazawa to visit the family Graham stayed with last year and also his old school and so he could show us around. We were booked on the night train due to leave at 11pm, we got to the station at 10pm (like to be early) :-) to be told that due to a typhoon warning the train was cancelled and we could go and get our money back. The children were tired and very disappointed but I was glad we didn't go as the thought of being on a train in a typhoon didn't exactly thrill me. So we home and went to bed. At 5am in the morning, we were woken by the room shaking again, I said to Graham "oh god here comes the typhoon, and he responded, don't worry I think it is just another earthquake" he was right, this time a 6.4.
The last one was on Wednesday, I remember thinking, 2 earthquakes in 3 days, hopefully that is it for the time we are here, but NO!! 8am in the morning, the same rocking, shaking of the room and it was 6.6.
As I said before we are all fine, everything around us seems fine and hopefully that is it for the year! Please!!!!

Noisy Bugs - Cicada

The first day we were in our apartment there was a really loud noise, I thought that someone in another apartment building was playing the guitar (badly)!! we then asked someone and realised it was a bug called the Cicada. These bugs are really interesting if not a little loud!!
It is said that Cicadas in Japan live only two weeks in the trees while they live underground for seven years until they come outside on the ground. Casting is such an exciting moment. Even its little wings are still wet and shrinked. His round and large dark eyes are cute against his white body. By the time the wings get dry, the color of a newborn cicada turns to dark. Then it's time to fly. Good luck! Live up your life!
I have posted a link so you can hear the noise they make, a lot of people hate them but I actually like the noise now as it is a noise that will remind me of Japan.

New Apartment

We moved into our new apartment on the 6th August 2009, it is a great place and I know we are going to be happy here. We have 4 bedrooms, 3 normal size,one has 2 single beds in for the kids, one has 2 desks in and the 3rd has a sofa bed and the TV will go in there, (guest room) the last bedroom is ours and is HUGE twice as big as our bedroom in CH, it is beautiful but we only have a bed and 2 bedside tables so looks funny at the moment but don't want anymore furniture in there so it will be fine. We have 3 toilets, and 2 bathrooms that are fab!! Japanese style with a room for the shower (bigger than our small bathroom at home) and then a bath in there too, it is great!! the toilets are the all singing all dancing kind and poor Gian had a shock the first time he used it as it flushes automatically when you get off, he thought one of us had flushed it from another room :-) he wasn't amused!! (the rest of us had a good laugh)!!

We have a reception down stairs with three lovely Japanese girls to help us out if we need anything, they weren't too happy when I decided to try out the security system (without reading the instructions) and set the alarm off, this also went to a central security centre... oops, we had 1 girl and the manager in our apartment trying to sort it out and Graham kept saying "sorry it was an accident" while I was just sooo embarrassed and kept out of the way, while sniggering a lot!!

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Arriving in Tokyo, Japan - 4th August 2009

We arrived into Tokyo in the morning after a 12 hour flight, unfortunately we didn't sleep so all very jet lagged! We had to queue for about 1.5 hours to get through immigration, not fun when you are tired but nothing you can do, not any worse than entering America!! Bags were there when we had finished so we went straight away to catch the bus to the hotel, very easy and cheap enough, we all slept on the bus as soooo tired.

We stayed at the Tokyo Park Hyatt (the hotel from the film "Lost in Translation") for the first 2 days before we moved to our flat. what can I say WOW!! what a fab hotel, it is HUGE for a start and just soooo beautiful, our room was great with a big bathroom with TV, I could get used to that! :-) On the Wednesday morning we went for a swim in the lovely pool and then on to breakfast which was one of the best breakfasts I have EVER had, very simple but everything was so fresh.

Leaving Switzerland - 3rd August 2009

This was a really hard day for me, leaving my home and my fantastic friends. I know I am going to have a great, once in a lifetime adventure with the people I am closest to and who mean the world to me, Gra, Mia and Gian but I am still going to miss everyone back home and will think often of them and beautiful Switzerland. I will be back!!!