Monday, August 29, 2011

Home Again, Home Again

Last Monday we were blessed to receive the ever so long awaited phone call, letting us know that our household goods (or HHG's if you can understand military language) had arrived in Sasebo. I cannot even begin to explain how excited I was to know our things would be delivered the following day! I've never been so appreciative of my personal belongings as I am now, after living without them for 2 months.
    So, the following day my good friend Kristen came and picked up the girls, while Josh and I directed movers as to where to up things. I've never had movers be so careful with  my things and work so hard to get it all into my house without any damage. They started at 9 and thought they were done around 1, until we realized that the hardware for the girls beds were no where to be found. Thus began the digging through and emptying of as many boxes as we could, to find the bag with parts in it. We finally found them in the bottom of one of Elliot's boxes of toys and they set up the beds. Here's a before and after photo of each room. There are still a few things that need to be hung on the walls and boxes that need to be moved to storage, but for having our things less than a week, it's not too bad!! 

The Kitchen

The Living Room

Dining Room

Hannah's Bedroom

Elliot's Room

Josh and my bedroom

So that's it! This is our home in Japan. I hope you enjoyed the photo tour!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sushi and Tee shirts

I was thrilled when Josh and I woke up this morning and sat on the couch to drink some coffee together before the girls woke up and he told me he wasnt't going in to work today. He usually works Monday through Saturday, so this being a rare opportunity, I immediately began thinking of things we could do and places we could explore. He, however, had another idea.
 He said, " I've never gone to the 2nd floor of Aeon".  Aeon is a 3 story building with many, many individual stores inside of it. The first floor is a grocery store, bakery, a few resturants and a drug store of sorts. The second floor we learned was the clothing floor. Aeon is set up so there are many different stores in one large open space. There are no walls to seperate them, but rather one side of a large shelf is one store and the other side of the shelf may be another.  At any rate, we walked all around the clothing floor of Aeon and found a lot of very unsual tee shirts.... For your entertainment, here they are.

                                   If you have a willing mind, you'll make lots of pleasure!!

                I really can't even begin to understand what in the world this could possibly mean.

This one says, " Let's make it over firmly not to be here painting is left paint cans."
Again, not sure what this means. I wish I could translate it back to Japanese and see what it says then.

Apparently there are a lot of factory working insects.

 I guess if I wear this I'm sure to be come great, have lots of happiness and hope?

The third floor of Aeon is household goods, like rugs, bedding, curtains, bathroom stuff and a few other shops like the Hello Kitty store and a few more resturants. There's also an arcade up there.
After we finished on the 2nd floor, we went back down to the first floor to the grocery store. I was told there was sushi to be had there for a decent price, so we went to scope it out. The girls were very interested in the whole fish in the refrigerated section and some squid tentacles...

How would you cook these for dinner??

I'm not sure what kind of fish this is, but Elliot wanted to touch it's eye.

 Buying things from the japanese grocery store is interesting. You just have to look at things and hope that they taste as good as they look. The girls found that the pink things on the right hand side, although they looked sweet, were not at all. We still aren't sure what they are, but they were salty and not plesant. Instead they enjoyed some Strawberry Pocky, which is a sort of stick cookie covered on strawberry  yogurt, after they ate their dumpings ( in the front of the picture).
 Josh and I enjoyed Sushi rolls, which I think were tuna, and then a tray of shrimp sushi and the other tray of a mixture of different sushi's. We also decided to try a Japanese beer, which tastes the same as American beer and some mini hot dog/ sausage things that Elliot had a sample of and really liked.
All in all we had a great day exploring Aeon, being with Josh and enjoying our lunch  together!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Japanese Obon Festival

      While we didn't get to experience Japanese Obon this year, due to the girls and I being at VBS and less than pleasant weather, I thought I'd share with you one of the most important traditions  to the Japanese.
    Obon is a festival of sorts where the Japanese believe that their ancestors spirits come back to their homes to be reunited with their family. Obon is a week long festival and it ended on August 15th. Families who have moved away, return to their hometowns to be a part of the celebration and welcome their family members back from the grave. From what I 've read, the Japanese clean their houses and place a variety of food offerings, such as vegetable and fruits to for the spirits of ancestors in front of a butsudan, a buddhist altar. I don't know that they are all this large, but this is what I found when I searched the name of the buddhist altar.

    People then go to their family's grave and call their ancestors spirits back home. The name of this practice is called muke-bon.

On the last day of the festival, families send Toro Nagashi,(floating lanterns) down the river to the ocean, which are believed to hold their ancestors spirits. The latern and the spirit is lead down the river lit by a candle to guide the way to the ocean. Here are a few pictures that were posted on the Sasebo Naval Base website of the Toro Nagashi ceremony held here in Sasebo.

 This is the Sasebo River and the Albuquerque bridge, which connects Sasebo City with Nimitz Park. It is said to be the bridge of friendship between the Navy here in Sasebo and the people of Sasebo City. You can see all of the people lined up on the bridge and on the side of the river. Some of these people are just watching and others are waiting to float their lantern down the river.

You can't see these on the bridge from the picture above, but these white lanterns are strung along the length of the bridge. I'm not sure what they say, but they look beautiful.
Paper  lanterns floating down the Sasebo River into the ocean, during the day light.

Here is a view of the lanterns hanging from the bridge and the paper lanterns floating down the river.

A cluster of lanterns in the river.

We hope next year there is better weather and no commitment conflicts.I know there are many more festivals to come and I'm excited to see them all in person!!


Monday, August 8, 2011

The Show... A Yakiniku Experience

Several weeks ago our friends John and Ro took us to this resturant called "The Show Place." Think Bennihana, but without the chef cooking for you. The first time we came here, we were sans kids, but this time we brought them along for the experience. Each table has it's own little curtain  to provide you with privacy. Here's what it looks like when you sit down... Of course the cute littles girls don't come with it. ;O)
The little ring in the middle of the table is the habachi grill that you cook your meat on.  The girls were super excited to start cooking, so we took the menu out to figure out what we were going to order..

Lucky for us, they had an English Menu...

The Choice Lunch just meant a better cut of meat than the first one.

For those of you who know Elliot, know she's a very picky eater. So, we weren't sure she would actually eat this, since it came raw and she had to cook it. I guess that it's true that kids like food that they prepare better, cause this is what she did with almost all of the meat she had on her plate..

Unfortunately Elliot doesn't like rice, because she could have eaten as much as she wanted!!

Our spread at The Show Place! We got a salad with a great sesame dressing, miso soup, meat and veggies to cook on the grill and a really good melon soda!! The Japanese have lots of great little dishes to put sauces to dip your meat and veggies in and eat. I imagine there are lots of dishes after a good japanese meal, but the food is so good, it's worth it!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Beach, Bio Park and a Birthday Girl, Part 2

I know I promised I'd write part two last week, but time got away from me and I'm just now sitting down to write it. I also posted the pictures of our trip to the Bio Park on facebook, so I don't want to bore people with the same pictures. So here's a little bit more detail about the amazing place we got to visit for Elliot's 6th birthday and a few pictures.

   A good friend of mine, Mrs. B told me that there was a really neat zoo type of place called the Bio Park in Nagasaki and that she thought my girls would really like it there. So, we decided that we should go check it out for Elliot's birthday. We invtited the "B" family to go with us and Mrs. B so graciously drove, as I still don't know my way around.

      I cannot begin to explain how wonderful this "zoo" is. It's like nothing you will ever find in the states. Here you actually get into the pens with the animals. There are no cages to seperate you from them. Well, there are seperate areas for each animal type, but you get to go into the areas, close the gate behind you and be with them.  You can pet them and feed them and some of them even jump on your lap.  Not one of the animals we touched, fed or played with ever showed any signs of aggression. Infact, they were all very friendly and gentle. Elliot was tickled pink when a Lemur took some food from her hand.

I remember frequenting the San Diego Zoo when we lived there, which is supposed to be one of the greatest zoo's in the world. Well, I would agree they have a great number of animals and that it's a great place to walk around and look at animals, but this place is hands down the BEST zoo I've ever been too. You may be able to see flamingos at the San Diego Zoo, but at this zoo you actually get to hand feed them!!

There was also a neat "Animal House". In the Animal House there were more common American  pets, such as rabbits, cats, sheep, guinea pigs, mice and parrots. There was a little pen with a ton of little black and white mice that kids could hold and pet. There was also a parrot that squawked and when it landed on Elliot's arm, she was a little freaked out..

 We also got to make friends with a little capybara that Elliot named "Broomie", causes she said it felt like a broom when she pet it. We spent quite a while in the capybara area, cause one of the employees came in to feed them all watermelon. The girls enjoyed watching them eat the mellon and  feeding them their "capyara food" that you could buy from the vending machine for 100 yen.

After our time with the Capybara's we moved along to what was my favorite part of the park. The Spider Monkeys and Lemurs!! These little guys were so sweet and soft. Their little paws were so soft and gentle when they took the food from your hands. I kept expecting to be scratched, but they have no claws. I was hoping to get this picture with his eyes open, but I think the flash made him blink. I also need to say that I was not using a long lens.. These monkeys were literally less than a few inches from me and my camera.

This cute little guy was trying real hard to get a raisin from Hannah's hand without climbing on her lap. I got a great surprise when a Lemur hopped onto my lap when I wasn't paying attenion. I had to toss Hannah the camera real quick, for her to snap this picture before he jumped off.

One of our last stops was the kangaroos. I've never seen a kangaroo, so this was a first for us. Well, I guess most of this was a first for us, as we've never been able to actually get up close and personal with animals like this before. There was one kangaroo that really liked Hannah and attempted to give her a "kiss" before we walked out of the pen..

Now, I know someone who is reading this is thinking, "Wow, that's a lot of germs going around petting all of these wild animals!" Well, to that I say, "That's why at every animal petting station we watched all of the girls do this..."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Beach, Bio Park and A Birthday Girl, Part 1...

  This week is an exciting week in the Fields household!! Today we went to a beautiful beach, called Shirahama beach, about an hour from our house with a new friend Mrs. S and her two children Ms. E and Mr. G. The ride there was just incredible!! We drove up a mountain side and could see the harbor and it was one of the most beautiful views I've ever seen!  I can't even describe how beautiful it was. Hannah took a few pictures out of the window of the moving car, but a picture just doesn't do it justice.

     We also saw some beautiful houses along the way and then really enjoyed playing at the beach. The water was very calm, more lake like than ocean and the water was crystal clear.  We swam and searched for shells for a while and then the girls made friends for some japanese boys, who wanted to use our sand toys to build a sand castle and also wanted to talk to them, I'm guessing to practice their english.

The view as we were walking down towards the beach.

This boat was dragging a net behind it, catching all of the small jellyfish that got through the outer netting. You can see the bouys behind the boat, that hold the nets.

The Japanese kids who wanted to talk with our kids. They were laughing and burying each other in the sand.

The girls had a blast collecting shells and looking at the crabs and snails during low tide.

A view from the rocks and tide pools during low tide back over to the beach.

Every now and then someone would get on the loud speaker and say some things in Japanese.  Mrs.S and I were laughing about the fact that we would have no idea if they were telling us there was an emergency, so we concluded that unless the Japanese beach goers all packed up their belongings and started running up the hill, we were in no danger!

 Tomorrow lies another great adventure to the Bio Park in Nagasaki, where monkeys can sit on your shoulder, you can feed hippos and pet capybaras!!  It's also my sweet Elliot's 6th birthday! Look for  Beaches, Bio Park and Birthdays part two, coming tomorrow, with new and exciting pictures of our days adventures!!