Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Mom and Dad come to Japan

I was surprised to hear a month ago that my parents would be coming to Japan to visit. They had talked about it, but with Dad's work and Janine's wedding coming up in August I wasn't sure if they could make it. They arrived in Tokyo on March 23rd and spent a day and a half walking around, riding the subway, drinking expensive coffee (Starbucks in Japan is cheaper than at other shops) and filling up on ramen noodles.

Then on Friday, March 25th they caught their plane to Kumamoto. Having not seen each other in 2.5 years it was nice to talk over tea and cards nearly every night. We saw the usual sights around Kumamoto: Aso National Park (active volcanoe), Kumamoto Castle, Suizenji Park (Japanese garden and tea house), Hosogawa Mansion (House of the feudal lords of Kumamoto), a number of temples and we spent one day touring the canals of Yanagawa by boat.

Mom also bought a digital camera, a Sony DSC-W1 5.1MegaPixels, for a bargain $230 CND which we used to photograph and film Dad eating as well as take regular tourist snapshots. Some of Mom's video clips are quite funny, you'll have to ask her to show them to you.

Perhaps the funniest part of the trip was Mom's insistence on having sushi. Eden wasn't really interested and Dad and I were indifferent. Being accustomed to California rolls and similar tame sushi, Mom was a little surprised to see that most shops only served raw fish on cold rice. On their last night, April 2nd, we decided that we must finally bring Mom out for sushi and we went to the local kaiten rotating sushi bar. For around $18 CND the three of us (Eden was ill) ate around 13 plates of various items. It was quite tasty and it was a good experience. Mom seemed to stick to the safe bets of California rolls and prawns while Dad kept choosing "something exotic" and teasing Mom for picking "things you can get at home." One dish that we found quite good were fish eggs that had been laid on a blade of sea grass.

Other interesting things that we ate were grilled eel when we went to Yanagawa and ramen made with water from the Shirakawa river fountain head. (Water bubbles up from the ground there at 1000 l/second or about 60 tonnes a minute!)

What surprised Dad the most were the prices. He came to Japan expecting $10 hamburgers, $200 hotels and $5 coffees. He was quite amazed to find a good filling lunch for between $7-10 CND. At one restaurant in particular, Chikyu-ya in Kumamoto City, we ordered four sets of the fried chicken lunch and had so much left over chicken that we had it for two meals after. The total bill was less than $40 CND for the four of us.

On April 24th, Eden's best friend will visit us for two weeks. During Golden Week, April 29th - May 8th we will visit the island of Shikoku, hike in the Iya Valley and stay at Chiiori, a 300-year old traditional thatched roof farm house!

Currently listening to: Tracy Chapman - self-titled
Eden is reading: The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
Josh is reading: Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

Eden and I at Kumamoto Castle. Check out the beard!


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7:40 p.m.  
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9:40 a.m.  

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