Saturday, 22 April 2017

Namaja town Sunshine City - Ikebukuro

This post was supposed to go out a few weeks ago but I just noticed that it was still in the drafts folder! Oh well, better late than never.

It was over the long holiday weekend, unfortunately my husband was working away so Ebi-kun and I went on a bit of an adventure. We have been to Namaja town years ago, Ebi-kun was a toddler and we just went to the ice-cream city section really.

If you plan to go, it is worth noting that there are two ways to pay. You can get an all day pass which includes all the attractions or you pay ¥500 to enter then you have to pay extra for any attraction you want to go on. We went for the all day pass because it was the easiest mainly!

Also, it's all Japanese, Ebi-kun is fluent so we managed OK but if you don't have a great grasp on the language a lot of it will be lost on you and many of the attractions are too complicated if you don't have the language skills.

Our first game involved carry around a large egg! 

At various times the lights would flash on the top of the egg and you would have to take it to be fed, the toilet or the hospital. There were other stations and games to play with it too, I found it all a bit weird, but what I found weirder was middle aged blokes going around doing it by themselves!

It takes 40 minutes of egg care then you have to take it back to the start and you get a printout with all the eggy details.

There are lots of other games too, this is a fishing game, there is a massive screen inside with 12 fishing spots, you all get a rod and then you have to try and catch fish, you are ranked against everyone else playing. It all gets a bit crazy and it gives you arm ache, you have been warned!

What you may not know about Sunshine building is that is it supposedly one of the most haunted places in Japan because it is built on the site of a rather brutal prison, Ebi-kun has a bit of a thing about Japanese ghosts so the spooky attractions were a big hit! These lamps are great don't you think! Even spooky stuff is cute in Japan.

This one a memory game using rotating gravestones, who thinks of this stuff?

The whole place is a maze of little streets and alleys, I have no idea what this cat was for but there were many random features like this dotted around.

One drawback is that there is limited food selection. It is OK if you like gyoza because they have gyoza street with a variety of famous gyoza, they have a few other things available too but not a huge choice and if you have any dietry requirements you will be out of luck. I believe you can leave Namajatown and come back in if you get your ticket stamped, so that would be an option.

We tried a few gyoza and a small bowl of udon. The gyoza were good but to be honet, I'd rather just have a couple as a side dish, not a plateful as my main!

One thing that has changed since the last time I came was the ice-cream city, as it used to be know. When we visited before there was a huge selection of weird and wonderful ice-cream, including things like whale and roast beef!

We were somewhat disappointed that there are just a few ice-scream shops now and the selection was quite poor in comparison. Ebi-kun went for tiger ice-cream (not made with real tigers! I think it was black sesame and mango)

One thing I forgot to mention was the tokens that you get given when you first enter, you can then gamble with them. When you get on an attraction you are asked if you want to gamble, if you win you generally win double your token back.

I find this all a bit weird in a country where gambling is basically banned except for pachinko and horse racing and even then there are strict rule in place.

We ended up with a pile of tokens so before we left we got to play the wheel, where we both won a bag of random crap and nasty snacks! Joy!

All in all if was a fun few hours, a bit expensive really, I think we tried almost all the attractions. I wouldn't recommend going if you don't have Japanese skills, I was totally baffled with some of the things and even Ebi-kun found some of the things confusing.

For more info, here is the site: Namaja Town

Japanese Toast Toppers

One thing I will never get bored of is the packaging in Japan. They really know how to do cute and ridiculous well!

I spotted these in the supermarket the other day, the whole display was a 10 for cuteness.

Form what I can workout (I didn't get sucked into buying any!) they are toppings for your toast.

Each animal has its own topping, so there is cinnamon, chocolate, caramel and garlic and numerous other flavours too. Whether this will last as a product we will have to wait and see but I tend to think that it will be one of those fad things that disappears as quickly as it appeared. 

If you are ever in Japan and think to yourself 'Oh, I should try that' DO IT STRAIGHT AWAY, I can't tell you the amount of times I have gone back a week later and the new exciting product has disappeared, never to be seen again!

And if you have tried these, let me know how it was!

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Make A Wish

A lot of the groups and people I hang out with online are into manifesting. I find it all a bit woo-woo but I do think there is something in it. That being said, I don't think you can just put things out there to the universe and expect shit to happen, if it were that easy we would all be millionaires living in beautiful mansions and having peeled grapes served to us for breakfast!

Really this manifesting is like the goal setting that I do with my clients but with a different name. The process is the same though, getting clear on what you want, with a specific time and goal in mind and a reason why. Then the magic part is figuring out the steps to make it happen.

Of course having the steps and the goal isn't going to work by itself, you need to put the work in, actually get the ball rolling. THATS when everything start to happen, when you get closer to your goal and the magic really does happen.

My current goal is to get my new project off the ground, it is a bit of a continuation of In With A boom but set up differently, I can't share more just yet but the big reveal will be coming soon!

So what are you wishing for right now?

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The Amazing Lego Egg Decorating Machine...

So, the other day I challenge Ebi-kun to build an egg decorating machine out of Lego. After a few false starts this is what he came up with.

He used 4 tyres and two motors, the egg rests between the tyres and the motors turn the tyres which in turn turn the egg.

As he was trying various methods out he was using a plastic egg which was jumping about a lot, the problem of the escaping egg was solved when he added a real hard boiled egg, the weight of the egg stopped it from jumping.

This is a Facebook Live video of the machines big reveal...

(If you click through, please leave him a comment and share the post ;) )

Raising A Bilingual Child

This is something I get asked about often so I thought I would do a round up of where we are now!

I'm not sure I would have lasted long in Japan if I hadn't come across the playgroup when Ebi-kun was a baby, he was about 6 weeks old the first time I went along, very much for me back then not him! 

We would meet weekly, usually on a Thursday at a room that we could hire in one of the members apartments. We would sing songs and play some games with the babies/toddlers then usually go for lunch outside (weather permitting). Sometimes we'd meet up at a jidokan - the city play centre or at the park and we would have regular events at the weekends.

The kids became firm friends and even though they don't see each other that often you would never know.

All our kids in the group are mixed race and bilingual, in some cases trilingual and the main purpose of the group was to have an English speaking environment for the kids to hang out in. We made it a rule that only English would be spoken, that was the adults too, which works most of the time. Now the kids are older, Japanese tends to be their play language or they switch back and forth but I do think that having the playgroup structure in place when they were little made a huge difference.

It's hard to believe that most of these kids have been friends since they were babies. Unfortunately now they are older, we don't get to catch up as often but it's great that as soon as they do see each other, they are off having fun as if it were only yesterday they were hanging out.

As we live in an area with very few foreigners we also felt it was important for Ebi-kun to have friends that were mixed race like himself so that he never felt weird or strange because he doesn't "fit in" with the local kids. He is different and that's something I want him to be proud of, not ashamed of. 

Apart from the bullying incidents in the first grade, he hasn't had any issues, he has found his place and his friends now think it's "cool" that he is bilingual. He doesn't get embarrassed about his English and knows that he can use it as a secret language sometimes!

Having a fully bilingual child isn't an easy job and there is zero luck involved. It requires the parents to be dedicated and consistent in what they believe to be the best way forward. For us, that means using English as the family language and 95% of the time only English in the house.

We try to watch the TV and films in English, we listen to English podcasts and music and chat with friends and family back home when ever possible. 

Every morning Ebi-kun reads a chapter of his book to me and at night I read to him before bed, we have just started the next epic journey... Lord Of The Rings. I know some people will think that at 11 he is too old to be read to be I think it gives us a great connection. Sometimes it is hard to find something in common to talk about, books bridge that gap. And there is the plus that we often watch the film version afterwards and dissect and compare it to the book.

Writing is the one thing that we need to keep on top of, the rest falls into place but after a full day at school the last thing he wants to do is sit down and do a load of writing.

I don't believe in workbooks or drill sheets so I try to make the writing fun, like the Dr Who story sheets and Mini Writing Books on topics that he is currently interested in. I'll do a separate post on what he is up to at the moment.

Trips back to the UK are important too, having a grasp on the language isn't enough to be bilingual, the culture plays a part too and the best way to absorb the culture of a country is to be there. So although I joke about getting out of this hot sweaty hell hole in the summer, it isn't just for my armpits benefit, I want Ebi-kun to absorb as much of his heritage as possible.

So yes, he has missed the summer fireworks and festivals in Japan and sometimes we have missed a Japanese event because a playgroup event takes priority - Halloween, Easter and Christmas parties are the main get togethers these days. But I feel that those sacrifices are worth it and that being bilingual and carrying both cultures with him are well worth it.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Time to dream...

The first quarter of the year seemed to be wam, bam, thank you mam!  Working through stuff that I knew had to be done, launches and lots of behind the scenes gubbins.

But I have committed to spending time to create on a regular basis and to be able to do that I need time to dream or day dream. Walks in nature, quiet cups of uninterrupted cups of tea and long soaks in the bath!

And so my new project was born. The name I have owned for a while and the idea has been percolating but I didn't have a clear view of what it would amount to. Having time to just day dream and chatting with my mastermind buddy helped bring it into focus.

So as we lead into Q2 I have new enthusiasm and excitement for something that I know is going to be amazing and I finally feel that I can bring everything together. That I can be the mulitpotentialite I know I am but still have the focus I need to succeed.

I know this all a bit vague but you won't have to wait long... I promise!

Friday, 7 April 2017

Rainy Day Art Session

Shhh don't tell him, but I was secretly pleased when the first day of the holidays was a rainy one. It meant I could take a break from work and instead we could get down and get creative.

I have recently fallen back in love with watercolours and Ebi-kun saw what I was doing and wanted to try too. We watched some hand lettering videos on YouTube then tried our own hand at it.

Not as easy as it looks. The strange thing here is that Ebi-kun HATES calligraphy at school but he happily sat for a couple of hours doing it in English! Maybe I'm nicer than his teacher!

We did seem to take over the whole living room with our creativity, which I don't mind, there is always a time to get messy! I'll share some of the finished pieces when the paint has dried!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

At a loose end...

My husband has to work one Saturday a month so usually Ebi-kun and I go off on an adventure. Well, we were both tired and couldn't be bothered going into Tokyo, I wanted to pop into Flying Tiger so we decided to have a poke around at Saitama Shintoshin instead.

It is one of those places that has a huge arena, so you never know what you might find...

And to be honest, I'm still not sure! There was a big cycling expo on, and all these folk walking around, not really sure why but they were very keen to get their photos taken!

So although it was a pretty unexciting day out, these people did liven it up a little. I totally failed with Flying Tiger, I had gone looking for watercolour paper but they had sold out!

We ended up getting lunch from one of the food stall, not that impressive and somewhat over-priced! We recorded a video for Ebi-kun eats but I'm not sure when it goes live. The boy is in charge of all that!

On our way home we ran into an Oni (devil) from Amori, he didn't look happy!

Then we spotted this little hedge creature when we walked home. It turned out to be one of those days where you leave the house not knowing what the day will bring and get home thinking, I'm not sure I should have bothered!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Taste tests: Ebi-kun Eats and taste tests - Oblea de arroz

What's in the mystery snack box this week? I think he has been quite lucky recently and only had nice snacks, maybe we need to mix things up a bit and sneak something revolting in the - the revolting ones always make for funnier viewing (in my opinion!)

Find out what this weeks treat was here...

Friday, 31 March 2017

Cooking Corner - English Teacakes

Ebi-kun is off school at the moment so I am putting him to work in the kitchen, he loves making mac and cheese from scratch but I want him to expand his repertoire. He is starting with bread!

Many people think that making bread is difficult, it's not, it just takes a bit of patience and it's a great recipe for kids. 

This recipe is from Paul Hollywoods 100 Great Breads, which has become one of our most used cookbooks, we haven't tried them all yet but we have tried quite a few! No disasters so far, and the recipes are easy to follow, so if you are looking for a good bread book I can highly recommend it.

This is the first time we have tried the teacakes though, slightly adapted recipe:

400g strong flour
1.5 tsp salt
40g caster sugar (he used brown)
20g yeast
1tsp cinnamon
200ml water
50g softened butter
140g mixed dried fruit
1 egg beaten for eggwash

Put the flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon, butter, yeast and water into a large bowl and mix together for 2 minutes. Tip the dough onto a slightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Return to the bowl and let rest for 1 hour.

Line a baking tray or use a silicon tray. Add the mixed dried fruit to the dough and divide into 75g pieces. It doesn't matter how well you measure everything, the last piece will always be under the correct weight.

Shape into a ball (I should have shown him how to pull the dough to make it smooth here but he didn't want any help! Use a rolling pin, flatten using a rolling pin until they are about 2.5cm thick.

Place on the baking tray and leave to rise for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 190C. Brush the top of the teacakes with beaten egg wash and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Try the teacake fresh from the oven, smothered in butter.

Also delicious toasted and yes, smothered in butter! These were really good and although he doesn't know it yet, he will be making these again next week!

how to make teacakes | teacake recipe |cooking with kids | recipes for kids | kids in the kitchen |

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