Friday, 30 January 2015

Bananas Over His New Game

One of our UK friends George, recommended the game Bananagrams to Ebi-kun, his mom explained it was a bit like scrabble but you have your own game going on. Well, scrabble doesn't work well in this house because of the mixed levels, I always win, hahaha I don't mind but the others do!

It works much better than scrabble, we have had no meltdowns or tantrums so that is a win if you ask me. Basically it's a bag of tiles, each player takes a set number of tiles, turns them face up and tries to make them into a crossword or scrabble type figuration.

If you get stuck with a letter you can put it back but you have to take 3 more tiles and if you finish all your tiles you pull and new one from the pile and all the other players have to do the same.

The other great thing is about Bananagrams is that you can switch letters or completely change your layout. You keep playing until there are no tiles left. There are other variations of the game too. I don't like letting kids win all the time, I don't think it teaches them good sportsmanship but on the other hand I think sometimes we need to level the playing field, it's much easier to do that with this cam than it is with scrabble.

And of course, it's using words so a great educational game to boot. So a big thank you to George for the recommendation and to Di for getting it for Ebi-kun at Christmas.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Day Tripping In Harajuku

I went into Harajuku at the weekend to get my hair cut and then took a wanderer around, i do like wandering down all the little side streets, so many weird and wonderful things to see....

Queuing for pancakes...

Punk Cake - sold no cake but old junk!

No small women allowed...

And the reason I like the side streets? This is the main quirky street...

Monday, 26 January 2015

Life Saving For The Family...

At the aikido club, they have to have at least one designated first aider, who has to have done the CPR/AED training. My husband got picked this year so we all went along for the training! Officially Ebi-kun is too young to join but I wanted him to do anyway.

The first time I did CPR I was 7 and in the Brownies and I had done it every year until I came to Japan, so I was glad to do a refresher too.

Must say I was very relieved that I didn't have to give a pigeon mouth to mouth!

The course is run by the fire department and of course included a boring 30 minute DVD - wouldn't be Japan if it didn't !

There has been a change in recent years so that CPR is the way to go, so we did lots of practice with that. Then we got to use the AED packs, I have never done this before - exciting... Clear....bam....charge..... - maybe I have watched too many episodes of ER!

It's all pretty straight forward, the gadget actually tells you what to do and even with my crappy Japanese I could figure it out.


Of course, I have Staying Alive going through my head the whole day, why? Well Vinnie Jones (ex football player now movie star) did this amazing video, cracks me up every time I watch it...

Brilliant but then I discovered this one....

Watch them, share them and don't be blaming me for the ear-worm!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Getting juicey

Back on the smoothie/juice kick. We were forced to take a bit of a break because our juicer died! The company were good about it though and sent us a replacement. Now we all start the day with a juice of some description. can't say that we stick to any recipe as such, it depends what is in season/cheap at the moment.

We have had a lot of spinach based and citrus based juice recently and I do miss them when we don't have one for some reason.

Do you juice? What is your favourite combo?

If you have been thinking about juicing, I can recommend Claire Stones "The Juice Party" books as a good place to start, she's a non nonsense Brit with a wicked sense of humour :)

Friday, 23 January 2015

Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

Me: What do you want to do?
Ebi-kun: Go to an architectural museum
Me: .....?!

So, i got onto google and discovered that there is one in Japan but right at the other other end and it would involved hopping on a plane to get there. So I shelved that idea but then came across the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum. It is a bit of a trek to get there by train so we decided to go on the national holiday and daddy thought it would be better to go by car.

It's a lovely museum, set in a big park. We didn't have time to explore the park, maybe next time! There were a variety of buildings that had been taken down from their original location and rebuilt. I quite liked this home from 1941, could have been the fact that they had radiators - shame that trend didn't catch on!

WARNING if you go, make sure you have shoes that are easy to take on and off, you pick up a carry bag when you arrive and use that to pop your shoes in so you can take them off to walk around the houses.

There are some traditional farm houses, worth popping in it's cold because they have a fire going and volunteers telling stories and sharing their knowledge.

This member of staff was making Japanese style shoes.

Maybe because it was winter it wasn't busy but it was a lovely day - a bit chilly.

This makes me laugh, the boys visiting the local izakaya (bar)

The taylors...

We stopped at one of the farmhouses to warm up and we got to sample salty cherry blossom tea - yep, tastes as revolting as it sounds!

Before we left, Ebi-kun tried his hand at a fan game. I didn't catch all the rules but you throw the fan to the flower off the box. He was playing against daddy and won!

All in all, a great day out and highly recommended if you are looking for something to do.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The weirdness of Japan

It is no secret that Japan is quirky - which is why I love it! This is one of the quirky Japanese things. Just down the road from where Ebi-kun goes to aikido. It's a statue of a girl in a red bikini! And she is hanging out with a panda and a lion...

I thought there must be an interesting story behind it all - and just to be clear, we live in a landlocked prefecture - we are no-where near the sea or even a lake! Turns out that it was just a local who wanted to make a girl in a bikini!

Monday, 19 January 2015

A treat for me...

I decided it was about time to upgrade my camera. I have been using a point and shoot type but I do own an old skool SLR Pentax. I haven't been able to use it in recent years because the lining inside the camera has rotted but the lenses are still fine. So when I was trying to decide what type to go for I stuck with Pentax as I know the old lenses will it the new camera. 

You can imagine how excited I was when I found out you can choose the colour of the camera too, there are something like 64 combo's you pick the body - mine is obviously pink and then the grip colour which is actually chocolate. LOVE it.

I have been putting it through it's paces, there are a lot more bells and whistles so it's been a steep learning curve!

This is the local hoikuen - which is a kindy for working parents, it's a beautiful building and very light and airy inside.

Then we had a poke around at the prefectural activity centre - which sounds more exciting than it is. I'm not sure why there is a mermaid in the middle of there!

Of course, I have got one handsome model at my disposal, he looks so grown up in this picture, where did my lickle baby go?

I'm pretty much in love with the new camera. I need to get off the auto mode and do a refresher on using the SLR side of things, expect more photos!

And if you want the same camera it's a Pentax K-50 - I went through Amazon and on the Japanese site there was an option to pick colours. 

Friday, 16 January 2015

3 years of conversation

A new habit in the Ebi-house is filling in this book. Q & A a day for kids by Betsy Franco. It's a diary, each page has one question then three sections to fill in for year 1, 2 and 3, so as the child gets older you can see how their answers change. There are 5 lines per entry so I've been encouraging longer answers with a reason rather than a one word answer.

Some of the sample questions are:

What would you like more of?
Who is your hero?
What seems to be dangerous to you?
Describe a time you were angry...

Now, there are a couple of reasons I bought this. Firstly I want Ebi-kun to develop good morning habits, it's well documented that successful people have morning rituals and routines. As it happens Ebi-kun is already an early riser and is up before me and my husband, he is usually dressed with his nose in a book when we come down in a morning. And I LOVE this, even at the weekend when he is allowed to watch TV, he reads first, it's like the written word is his alarm clock. So adding a writing habit into the mix is a good step forward.

Secondly, as Ebi-kun is in Japanese school all day and as he gets older his free time gets shorter, I needed a way to sneak some fun writing in English in. the Montessorian in me doesn't believe in doing drill books or forcing a tired child to sit down and do more studying when they have been at school all day (Don't get me started on the whole juku/cram school rant!) BUT I still want to keep his English level appropriate to his age. Speaking and reading are no problem, writing is the area we need to work at.

And finally, morning are our family time, daddy Ebi gets back late most nights so it's good to spend some time in the morning to talk about what we've been doing and what we plan to do. Adding the daily question into the mix makes it more fun. We deliberatly get up earlier than we actually need to so that our mornings are relaxed and easy going, I hate starting the day stressed out and harried.

If you like this idea for yourself, there is an adults version too.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Out With The Old and In With The New baaaa

We had to take the old Hamaya (lucky arrow) back to the shrine and get a new one for the year of the ram/sheep. We always go to this shrine even though it's not the closest to our house, I think they have a better selection and sell the goods for longer, I seem to remember the local place is only open for actual new years and the day after - and of course we were up a mountain at that time.

This is the new hamaya, well the tag on it, you write your wish for the year on the back then hang it in the genkan (entranceway)

We also got omekugi (?) which is a fortune teller, mine was mediocre, good luck I don't believe in such nonsense!

Hubby's fortune wasn't so great so he tied it to the fence in the shrine which is supposed to leave the bad luck there...

If you believe in such things lol!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Forget the nursery slopes, where is the half pipe?

Yes, day 3 we ventured over to the far side of the resort to a few runs that we hadn't tried before, one of which was the snowboarders assault course (unofficial name), it has some jumps, box, half pipe, rail all that jazz. Of course Ebi-kun was straight down there! And on his arse quite a lot but he just kept getting up and giving it another go.

One section from the lift to this run is fairly steep which was playing havoc with my ski boot, one kept coming undone - not the safest way to ski, so I gave up for the last few runs since the ski centre to get it looked out was miles away. Meant I got to take photos instead.

It was hysterical waiting for them to come down, there was a tiny tot, a girl I think, about 3 years old, went flying over a jump and straight into a big powder snowdrift and got stuck. Mom followed he down and found her but had to take off her snowboard and use that to dig her out. Eventually she pulls little on out and mom gets busy putting he board back on but before she had even got one boot on, kid was racing down the hill flying over the other jumps! I bet she is hard work at home.

Although the weather wasn't great, very snowy and cold, we had a great time. We have also discovered that there is a more direct train, which is a bit slower but a whole lot cheaper, so we are planning to try that out and just go up for the day. Looking forward to it. 

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