Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Shinkansen to Karuizawa

This past Saturday, we rode the "Awesome" Asama Shinkansen to Karuizawa.  This is one stop prior to Nagano, site of the 1998 Winter Olympics.  It was great to get out of Tokyo and it's always a plus for Max to broaden his knowledge of the Shinkansen trains so he can then beg for the models for his "blue tracks".

Here, Max and Rich pose in front of our train.  In just 65 minutes, we traveled 90 miles.  But perhaps more impressive than the speed, we felt worlds away from Tokyo.  

Karuizawa is a mountain resort town with an active volcano (Mt. Asama), hot springs, and tons of outlet shopping.  While Rich and the other dads we met there played with the kids, I went to a concert with two other women to hear famous Japanese tenor Shigehiro Sano accompanied by a solo pianist (also famous, apparently). Not normally my interest but it was lovely and a great escape.

Here's Max and Daddy waiting to board our train.

We lucked out when a Max train pulled into the station on the track opposite ours so we got a family shot in front of it. 

Here's Max from inside the Asama Shinkansen with the Max train in view on the opposite track.

Here's Max with the three little girls he spent the day with.  He was at a bit of a loss with them.  The language and gender differences are starting to become more of a social stumbling block.

But you can't go wrong with ice cream.  In this picture he looks pure Puglisi. Those of you who have seen pictures of me as a child will understand.

Have you lost your marbles?

This summer Nannu gave Max a gift of a marble maze construction toy.  How else to explain it? You stack up the chutes and channels to make a run for the marbles.  Well, we play with it every day.  Rich wanted me to leave it in the US but I was convinced Max would pine for it.

I like the following picture because it shows Rich covered in calamine lotion from bug bites likely from the notorious bedbug experience at our shore house on Long Beach Island.  A most uncomfortable end to a nice vacation. 

Oh, and the blocks are also handy for stacking and making a place for the Cars to rest.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Back to basics

It's time to get back on the horse, so to speak and post something.  

We've been home (as in Tokyo) for 2 weeks now and are settling back into a routine.  Max has a new preschool that he attends M-W-F from 8:30 - 2:00.  He's adjusting fine and I am grateful to have some free time.  What to do with that time remains the question.  With no plans to continue my Japanese and Ikebana lessons I have to put together a routine that includes more than meeting friends for coffee or lunch.

Part of the reason for not continuing the Japanese lessons is that it's looking like we'll be moving back to the States in December.  Yup.  Our sojourn in Japan is almost over.   Perhaps I'll go into more detail later... but I think we are all ready.

I close with a few shots from summer vacation in the US.