Sorry if this post is later than usual. Karla is visiting and I haven't had much time.
The kids and I went to the xmas party at the local Japanese elementary school. The floor was really cold. The whole gym was freezing, in fact. Apparently we were supposed to have brought indoor shoes, but Jeff got the message on his cell phone, and he was in the US. All the kids were given color-coded nametags and had to sit in lines according to color.
There was a weird 'magic trick' by some old teacher,
a couple games,
and an ornament-making activity.
Then the kids won at Bingo. Actually, the game kept going until everyone won something, but the prizes were swell.
Jeff got home later, thankfully, and I almost immediately went out drinking. Sunday, he took the kids out all day. They went to a free zoo where they had penguins in their natural habitat of a model of Yokohama and a small-animal encounter area. Later, they had super-stacked pancakes that made the kids' eyes bug out.
Monday, Karla arrived! On Tuesday, we had a fun trip to the American Embassy, because Japan is en route to Thailand and Cambodia for Karla and she belated learned, at the airport, I believe, that one needs to have a passport valid 6 months out to enter Cambodia. She was going to try to fix the problem when she got here. We luckily had directions from a handy Navy base handout and found it no problem. You have to go through a few checkpoints and leave such things as food, drink, cellphones, and cameras behind. Then you take a number and wait. Surprisingly, when we were expecting a US DMV kind of situation, we were out of there in 10 minutes. Sadly, it was fruitless. She could take the chance that a passport could make it to the US and back by Saturday, but it wasn't likely, so no Cambodia this time.
We spent the rest of the day wandering about the area, where we found a pretty little garden behind some office building,
trying to get into the East Imperial Gardens near the palace, but they were closed,
and wandering a bit in Hibiya park in the rain after a nice coffee. Karla loves trees and gardens and stuff, so she enjoyed it despite the weather. The maples were really lovely at this late date, which surprised me.
weird organic teddy bears
I think these are plants wrapped up against the cold, very strangely and artistically
We made for the nearest subway station soon, though, to get out of the rain and cold and back to home to collect the children from school.
Oh, the guilt. D had complained in the morning that his tummy hurt, but like most moms, I figured he was just trying to get out of going to school, so I made him go. When we got to school to pick them up in the afternoon, we learned that D had thrown up twice and had spent the day sleeping in some schoolroom (I don't even know if they have an infirmary). They couldn't get a hold of me, because our cellphones were down because our phone bill goes to a friend who helped us get our phones before we had an address and it hadn't been paid--long explanation. Anyway, no phones, so someone took D all the way to our house, but we weren't there, obviously. Of all the times to not have a phone! I felt so bad for D, and the school must think I'm a neglectful mom. Sigh.
The next day, I kept him home, and we laid around most of the day, then went on a walk to show Karla around the neighborhood a little. This is our neighborhood friendly cat, which we enjoy petting in lieu of Blix.
A potted plant graveyard
A grapefruit tree???
There were some surprises for me, like a nearby temple I didn't know about.
We met Helen at night for drinks. We met a friend of hers recently returned from London called Jenji , and a magician called Tatsuki. He did cool things with cards and balls.
This picture was taken after they had all done a tequila shot. I don't do shots of any kind, let alone tequila.
Thursday, we had a hard time getting motivated, but we did finally get to Oguchi for a little shopping, then band practice @ Shingo's, which went well.
Friday morning, we made sure we got out of the house at a reasonable time and spent the day in Harajuku.
These are from an odd diva shop where they sell all kinds of bizarre patent leather and spangle-covered outfits. I've seen some of the 'cosplay' and 'gothloli' girls around, but I don't know where one would wear the Vegas Showgirl outfits.
Lots of shopping, a stop for ramen with Helen, Ian, and Lara, who work nearby, and a quick, eye-and-foot-soothing stroll to the Meiji Shrine. More lovely maples.
Tomorrow, Saturday, Karla leaves and the family goes to Tokyo for a work xmas party at the New Sanno. Sunday, Val & Katie arrive and full-on tourism ensues. I'm looking forward to it. I don't how much time I'll have to post before they leave, because there's a trip to Kyoto, the Blue Corn Xmas party, and Xmas itself. Xmas is weird this year. I haven't quite got my shopping done for the family, we will have guests, and I'm still so out of my element here that I don't know what it's going to be like. Anyway, in case I don't post before then, hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!
In case you thought I forgot, here's this post's random picture. This is a vending machine in front of the local supermarket.