A Travellerspoint blog

Yes I did eat the head of the fish....

As you have now seen from the pictures I did eat the fish.....someone had to take one for the team- thats what happens when you order the special assortment of side dishes. I did make Yo eat a fried oyster or clam- not sure what it was but she would not get off so easy. The most interesting part was the woman sitting next to the cashier who was singing/chanting the whole time. At first you just dismissed the sound as foreign language chatter that is constantly happening around you but this was a unique sound and eventually we were all looking back and entranced by it. Last night we found the very westernized part of Tokyo--we liked to call it the San Francisco Center- all the same shops and what not just like the malls in the US. Definitely not our favorite place--we like the odd out of body style places as opposed to the places that remind us of home. Today we take the bullet train to Kyoto-I can never sleep well before travel days, just nerves I guess. Great to see so many comments on the blog it always brings smiles.

Posted by sherpaBen 14:11 Comments (3)

This is hard work!

as Val would say, "my dogs are barking!!!"

sunny 32 °F

Subway signage

Subway signage

Basically we are out and about in the city all day everyday and my feet are soooo tired! There is so much to see here, really five days is not nearly enough time to see the sites here. We are finally past feeling intimidation about not speaking any Japanese. That initially kept us afraid of going into just any restaurant because we wouldn't be able to communicate. Everyone is so incredibly helpful. We have asked for help and four times people have left their shops or restaurants to go outside and direct us where we need to go.
Today we went to the electronics street to replace Ben's camera that I dropped and crushed--ooops...of course it wouldn't be MY fault if he had just put the wrist strap on in the first place. ;-) Good thing we happen to be in Japan where there are thousands of places to find a new camera!

The heart of Akihabara-David and Eli would go nuts here

The heart of Akihabara-David and Eli would go nuts here


We ended up finding a historic restaurant that has been in the same old building for 80 years making the same udon noodles recipe while we were searching for another restaurant. As we were standing in the narrow alleyway trying to read our map, cars kept pulling up and unloading lots of people. We decided it must be good--so we faced the japanese only menu and went for it. The kids (Arella and Po) weren't too excited about the fishy broth--but I am so HAPPY to tell you that Adrian has been absolutely AMAZINGLY BRAVE about eating everything!! Today he even ordered duck breast simmered in sake. It is pretty much a dream come true for me to not have to deal with his picky food habits. He thinks he is growing and that is why he needs to eat 2-3 bowls of rice and miso every morning for breakfast.
The food is all absolutely delicious. Although the little fried fish nibbles I can do without! I made Ben eat the head.
laughing now..

laughing now..

scared now...

scared now...

Exterior of Matsuya Rest.--handmade soba noodles

Exterior of Matsuya Rest.--handmade soba noodles

Last night was the tops. We found a place that specialized in Kobe beef. I have never eated so much beef at one time--raw, barely cooked, slightly grilled, and simmered for 3 seconds in miso broth...I couldn't believe it was possible for meat to melt in your mouth! Posa crashed out on two chairs after a bowl of rice and we were able to enjoy a long, relaxed dinner with the big kids. They loved cooking vegetables and beef on our own private grill at our table. I loved when the two businessmen at the next table decided to share a wonderful bottle of french wine with Ben and I!
Love the hot wash towels to clean hands beofre eating

Love the hot wash towels to clean hands beofre eating

radish salad and vegies to cook on the grill

radish salad and vegies to cook on the grill

presenting the 4th tray of Kobe beef

presenting the 4th tray of Kobe beef

melts like butter in your mouth!

melts like butter in your mouth!

Real sukiyaki

Real sukiyaki

bean sprouts on the grill

bean sprouts on the grill

special version of Shabu-shabu

special version of Shabu-shabu

sliced Kobe beef

sliced Kobe beef

grabbing the meat with a bit a of shoots like a taco

grabbing the meat with a bit a of shoots like a taco

us

us

Put the kids to sleep on two chairs--a trick I learned from my moms!

Put the kids to sleep on two chairs--a trick I learned from my moms!

Tomorrow we go south to Kyoto...

Posted by MamaYo 00:54 Archived in Japan Tagged family_travel Comments (6)

Yona's pictures from the tour day

food, fish, and views

sunny 42 °F

Managing the photos takes a long time...but before we head out for the day I thought I would get these online for you to check out. Kiyomi our guide

Kiyomi our guide

Top of the tower

Top of the tower

view

view

view

view

view

view

view

view

view

view

view

view

buildings

buildings

the palazzo Tokyo

the palazzo Tokyo

slurping is polite

slurping is polite

traditional meal

traditional meal

Japanese curry

Japanese curry

ramen with fish patty

ramen with fish patty

finally found a Buddha

finally found a Buddha

shrimpies

shrimpies

delicious tuna

delicious tuna

Smoked eggs

Smoked eggs

there is a kitty hiding behind the big egg

there is a kitty hiding behind the big egg

Fish market

Fish market

fish market

fish market

octi

octi

all in a row

all in a row

navigating the stalls at the market

navigating the stalls at the market

cutting fillets

cutting fillets

mmmm...so fresh

mmmm...so fresh

fish

fish

crabs crawling in sawdust

crabs crawling in sawdust

Grapefruit salad

Grapefruit salad

Condomania

Condomania

entrance to harjuku steet

entrance to harjuku steet

Posted by MamaYo 16:51 Archived in Japan Comments (2)

more shots

42 °F

IMG_4061

IMG_4061

IMG_4055

IMG_4055

IMG_4053

IMG_4053

Grapefruit salad

Grapefruit salad

IMG_4050

IMG_4050

IMG_4049

IMG_4049

Condomania

Condomania

IMG_4035

IMG_4035

IMG_4034

IMG_4034

entrance to harjuku steet

entrance to harjuku steet

view from 2nd tallest building in Tokyo

view from 2nd tallest building in Tokyo

IMG_4024

IMG_4024

modeled after which famous NY landmark?

modeled after which famous NY landmark?

golden eggs for sale

golden eggs for sale

piles and piles everywhere...

piles and piles everywhere...

leftovers

leftovers

Posted by MamaYo 16:27 Archived in Japan Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

Photos from Tokyo

to illustrate the story--

semi-overcast 44 °F

IMG_3060

IMG_3060

IMG_3062

IMG_3062

IMG_3063

IMG_3063

Kirin Building

Kirin Building

IMG_3068

IMG_3068

Inscence station

Inscence station

street view

street view

another cool buildig

another cool buildig

towers

towers

perfect pastries

perfect pastries

Food court in department store

Food court in department store

Posted by MamaYo 15:31 Archived in Japan Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

The Burbs

So we left heading out to Mitaka and the Ghibli (pronounced jiburi) museum of famous animator Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Totoro). We walk to the station with an air of arrogance like we can do anything in this city we know how to manage the trains after yesterday---and we get to the station ticket zone and we look up and are puzzled as if it is all Japanese--wait it is all in Japanese and what stop do we go to?????? Good thing you can buy any ticket and adjust the fair when you get there. It was really nice to get out to the suburbs--quiet, less hustle. What really struck me was that v=everyone had their bikes parked in front of their houses and apartment buildings but none were locked up---such a trusting safe area--do you think that would work in say Berkeley???? The museum was dazzling but I will leave that for the others to tell. And yes we finally managed a dinner with the most minimal amount of stress (of course we had to ask three merchants where it was, but the were so nice to show us--matter of fact everyone is nice). I will spare the details but I will say Yona has now decided she likes the beef more rare "like butter" I figured all of you who even know the Williams heritage at all know that this fact beyond all is a true miracle!!!!!! Till next adventure............

Posted by sherpaBen 14:10 Comments (3)

A bevy of trains, thousands of steps and Ninja Magic

It has been hard to post for the last 2 days because someone is either posting on the computer or using it for research. As you have read we toured the city with a guide two days ago. We really circumnavigated the whole city from the fish market to the old traditional section of Asakusa complete with Rickshaws (men running with carts that people sit in), to the Government building in Shinjoku (the 2nd tallest in Tokyo) where we went to the observation deck and saw that Tokyo goes on forever and to Harijoku where the young fashion is in full bloom. Other than the amazement of so many different places I was surprised by how easily it was to get around, though we were hoping from one train to the next it never felt stressed or rushed. Of course we all crashed when we got back to the hotel and had to fight our way to diner at Ninja which was a kitchky theme restaurant with ninjas, trap doors and mazes around but actually had good food culminating with the funniest Ninja Magic show by a " senior ninja" that we are still freaking out about. I will let everybody else elaborate on this day but I will say I am proud of how my family has been able to truck it around with only minimal stress--they are the best.

Posted by sherpaBen 13:52 Comments (0)

Around the city with Kiyomi--

Day Three in Tokyo

sunny 42 °F

Nine hours out and about in the city of 12 million. Kiyomi, our wonderfully patient tour guide for the day, says that, actually the population of Tokyo grows to be 30 million with all the commuters each day! We headed out at 9AM to see the famous Tokyo Fish market. I quickly realized that yesterday I had seriously misjudged the train atmosphere when we were forced into a *packed* train car. So full in fact that about fifteen people unloaded to the sides of the doors to make way for the thirty or so that poured out from the depths of the car. Kiyomi informed me that actually in the busiest station, Shinjuku, where over two million people pass each day, there are people on the platform just to help shove passengers into the cars so the doors can close! In contrast we had it pretty easy, though as we walked through the stations I was so worried that Mariposa was going to get trampled by the speedwalking "suits" who surrounded us.

We arrived to the fish market area down by the bayfront. I expected the smell to introduce to the market long before we got there, but amazingly, this market full of over 180 mini market stalls that has been in the same location for over 80 years, has not the slightest offensive fish stench! You know that I would detect any nastiness--so this is really impressive! Except for this fact, it wasn't that different or especially unique form other fish markets we have visited in other countries. We were too late to see the auction of the huge tuna--and most all the big fish were already cut up into giant steaks- The funnest part was trying to cross the street to get into the market itself. Mini cargo trucks were whizzing around us from every direction and Kiyomi scared me with her serious warning of this being the most dangerous place for us to be hit by a car. It was a life sized game of Frogger with us inching forward, pause, hustle, stop, and run.

to be cont....

Posted by MamaYo 17:47 Archived in Japan Tagged tourist_sites Comments (4)

Shinjuku.......Harajuka......Whatsitcalledjuku

sunny

Yesterday we went on a massive tour of tokyo. We literally went all over! My favorite part was all of it.. lol!
We started out by going to the fish market. Despite the amount of fish the smell was nonexistent. The place was a huge storage unit basically. Then we went to Shinjuku, which was quite cool. We walk through this huge tourist attraction row with all the cheap trinkets that tourists love. Then we walked up to this huge pot which had a hundred burning incense pieces. Before we went in the temple we had to wash our hands a very special was using a ladel. Right then left then get fresh water in your hand, sip it then spit is out, turn the ledal right side up and let the remaining water drip out over the handle. The inside was pretty boring but it was fine. Then we went to this street that was completely designed to look like the old city. There we got some food. I got rice with egg and fried breaded pork, it was super good. Next we got on the train and headed to Harajuku. We got there but we didn't see any of the super dressed up "lolitas." Even though there weren't any People dressed up we still had fun. There was a tamagotchi department where Mariposa and I got the new Tamagotchi+color (never going to be released in the USA '_' ). They Are super cool and easy to understand even though the instructions are in Japanese. I have already found some of the instructions in English online though. After walking through Harajuku we boarded to train and set off for the hotel. When we got back we went out to dinner at this place called Ninja. Though the walk in "ninja training" wasn't very impressive the magic tricks and food were. For dinner we had hot Vegetables in miso dip (wonderful) and then for the main course we had charcoaled sour and sweet pork, and special Japanese kobe beef. It was delectable! The fat melted in your mouth and tasted like buttery meat. OMG best food ever. The best part though was the Senior Ninja. He amazed me! His show started out by pulling coins out of a invisible coin purse. Then he held the frame of the purse out over Adrian's hand and a giant 6 inch coin fell out through the tiny 2 inch gold frame of the purse... How? Then he proceeded to pull a ball out of a cup many times even doing it in slow motion. "IIIII PUT THE BALL IN MY BAGGGG......... snap* IIII LIFT THE CUPPP." There was the ball. What was the best was he did it again but before he lifted the cup he made it change yellow... But when he lifted the cup it wasn't just a small yellow ball it was a lemon! How did he get a lemon under the cup! He shakes the cup and then sets it down and places the lemon on top...snap*. He lifts the cup and a second lemon comes out of that tiny 3 inch cup! The rest of the show consisted of Adrian picking a card and then him finding it. Then he had Adrian autograph it. After a few other tricks where Adrian hid it and he found it, He then bent the card and promptly stuck it in the middle. He tapped the deck and they were all flat in his hand. He let go of the top card and it bent up. As you can guess it was Adrians card. He finished by making Adrians card disappear and then reappear in his wallet sealed in a special envelope. The card in the envelope was his with his named signed on it and everything! Best day EVER!

Posted by Arellaskye 17:30 Archived in Japan Comments (6)

Sun and Snow

Day Two in Tokyo

sunny 45 °F

Adri and Po watching the robot dance

Adri and Po watching the robot dance

What a great day! Life today was as mellow as can be in this huge metropolis of Tokyo. Sometime in the "city" there is a feeling a frantic, frenetic energy that makes people tense and edgy towards each other. I never sensed that in our wanderings today. Of course we didn't go to Shinjuku Subway station during rush hour--where 2 million people pass through each day--that might be a different story! It is hard to describe the peacefulness of this vast city. It is the opposite of what I have ever experienced in other densely populated areas. There is a sense of order and calm that pervades the environment. Everyone moves with such purpose and direction in a steady manner, yet no one seems to be rushing.
I spent the day noticing the people around me and found myself admiring the Japanese culture more and more. Walking down the street with umbrellas open everywhere and I never had a single collision! How nice to be in culture that is so considerate. And really it is hard to not smile when stepping into a restaurant and all the staff, including the cooks, yell out "welcome!" in japanese with huge smiles! Everywhere people are so attractive and fashionable-- in an elegant, clean way. No dirty looking clothes, Tiff! Actually the entire city is clean. So clean in fact that Ben and I had to carry a bag of trash for 10 minutes before we found a trash can. Yet there is no trash anywhere....imagine that--nobody littering!
We decided to go to a museum for the kids that is in the middle of Tokyo Bay on a manmade island. As we were on the monorail heading through the city, the sun came out. What a beautiful change in the scenery. The architecture came alive. Giant steel, glass, and marble towers everywhere, sparking and reflecting light off their thousands of windows. Each one so unique and modern--I have never really contemplated the beautiful creativity in the function of buildings--but when everywhere I look there is another marvelous skyscraper it is hard to not be so impressed.
Tonight when we left the hotel to go out for dinner it was snowing and even more beautiful and surreal than before.Museum of Innovation and Technology

Museum of Innovation and Technology

What a treat!
And best of all today-so nice to be in our happy bubble together as a family.

Posted by MamaYo 05:09 Archived in Japan Tagged family_travel Comments (9)

From Mexico With A Packet Of Lime????

IMG_3053.jpgLook what we found at the Daily Store!!!

Posted by sherpaBen 00:41 Comments (7)

There are lots of convenience stores...

IMG_3052.jpg.....why do you want to go to Lawsons? A good question from the bell desk but Lawsons is the magical convenience store that has the machine that you get the tickets for the Ghibli museum of Miyazaki Hayao the king of Anime (Spirited Away and Totoro). It was like walking into an AM/PM but everything is in japanese. After a few purchases Yo and I tell the kids to go so we can try and figure this one out. We ask if anyone speaks english? No but they understand and one nice guy helped us navigate the all japanese machine. I watched in awe as he entered my name in japanese letters-we would not have been able to pull this one off. Tickets in hand we felt like we could take on the city now and we did, navigating the subway, buying our bullet train tickets and taking another monorail train to the Museum of Emerging Science and Technology. Tokyo is a piece of cake....now if we can only get dinner?????

Posted by sherpaBen 00:19 Comments (3)

Japan and the lost day

overcast

12 hours on the plane wasn't as difficult as I thought--everyone slept and occupied themselves effortlessly. We arrived to the airport in Japan at 5PM on Tuesday though we left on Monday afternoon. The sun was setting and the light had a strange hazy grey look to it. "Grey" has continued to be my impression of this huge city--and it IS the largest in the world. As we drove in on the limousine bus (great advice thanks to Tom--easy and cheap right to our hotel), on the opposite side on the road, it was an hour of grey concrete buildings all about 4-5 stories tall stretching out to the horizon. We are all exhausted and unable to think. I guess that is why we thought it would be a fine idea to go out for an "adventure" for food at 2AM our time--NOT a good idea! IMG_3016.jpg

Posted by MamaYo 16:53 Archived in Japan Comments (3)

Japan day 1

Hello,
It is febuary 3rd here in japan and i am tired as ever....... I never knew that i could manage to wake up at 3 am. The plane ride was painless and quite comfortable :). Such a relief. I was able to nap a little :).
But overall it was a fun flight..... Well as fun as a flight can get! lol! My first impression of the city is that it is HUGE!!! haha.......
5 things that i first noticed:

1.People from other countries must really enjoy the movie Music and Lyrics, because it is still an on demand option even after 5 years. (last time i watched it on a plane I was on Air France going to Paris)
3.This city is GIGANTIC!
4.We are how high up in this hotel? 34 stories. WHAT!
5.Waking up at 3 am isn't normal.
6.OMG i look like a zombie........aaaaahhhhhh RUN

<3
Rae Rae

Posted by Arellaskye 12:53 Archived in Japan Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

Off we go

semi-overcast

Off we go this morning..........I am SSSSSOOOOOO excited to see japan. Yesterday we got everything together to come to the bay. All the loose ends are dealt with finally, and we are ready for take off YAY!

Posted by Arellaskye 07:53 Archived in USA Tagged air_travel Comments (6)

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