Monday, April 20, 2009

How far is China?

One afternoon, after our helper Christy left for the day, Max asked me: Where's Christy?
I told him:  She went home.
He responded: Where is her home?
I said with some exasperation: I don't know.  Far away.
Max:  Hmmmm... maybe China.


Saturday, April 18, 2009


Picnicking under the cherry blossoms is HUGE in Japan.  It is a rite of Spring and Mom and Mark hit the peak of the season during their trip here in early April.  Needless to say, we have lots of pictures of cherry blossoms...

Here are a few shots of us or others, enjoying the scenery.

Grammy and Max in Inokashira Park

PB & J 0-hanami style

I took this from our picnic site at Inokashira Park

Folks at Ueno Park around 10:30 in the morning

Mom and Heather walking to the zoo in Ueno Park


Mom, Mark, Rich, Max and I visited Kyoto at the height of the cerry blossom season.  Our last trip to Kyoto was amid glorious fall foliage.  This time, we were lucky to hit the peak of spring. We hit the temples and shrines we didn't see in the fall - Nanzen-ji, Ginkaku-ji, Heian Shrine Gardens, Nijo-jo Castle and Ryoan-ji.

We arrived on a glorious Friday and checked into our Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn). We had some lunch 0-hanami style (picnicing under the cherry trees at a nearby park and after some ice cream (soy for me) trekked out to Nanzen-ji and enjoyed the grounds, a quiet garden and ancient aquaduct.  

We then retired to our ryokan and had tea and then private baths.  Dinner followed and then Mom, Max and I crashed on our comfy futons while Rich took Mark out for a drink in the Geisha district.

Day two we had intermittent light rain but we covered Ginaku-ji and it's amazing gardens and sand gardens, and the gorgeous Heian Shrine gardens.  Lunch was a ramen noodle shop (inedible for me as the broth was either chicken and pork derived and turned my stomach.)  So for dinner I made everyone go to a vegetarian buffet place.  We then toured the Nijo-jo castle with its gardens and cherry trees illuminated by spotlights.  

On Sunday Rich, Max and I headed off on our own to a famous outdoor food market where Max was fascinated by a well-worn machine that was turning whole dried fish into Bonito shavings. (Bonito is used in numerous dishes to flavor stock).  

We then took a cab outside of the main city to Ryoan-ji, site of one of the more famous zen rock gardens.  We contemplated the ripples in the sand as deeply as is possible when accompanying a 2-year-old, hiked through the gardens and grabbed some lunch. 

On the way back we saw the gardens of the Imperial Palace where Max ran into a tree and scraped his nose while chasing a girl.  Then he crashed in the stroller and got an hour of shut-eye while we made our way back to the hotel to grab our bags and cabbed it to the train station. We made our train with only a few minutes to spare but once on board it was pretty smooth all the way back to Tokyo, a trip that lasts just about 2.5 hours on the shinkansen (bullet train).