Sunday, January 27, 2008

She thinks my tractor's sexy!!

The kids had the day off on Friday. It was fun to hang out and have fun. Git yer foot tap'n and turn the volume up high, so you can hear!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNsoBNiP17c
video

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Omochi Pounding

Tara Grace's class did Omochi pounding today. It is sticky rice that is soaked in water over night. The they put it in these big wooden "bowls" and literally pound it. It is a tradition early in the new year. When it is done it is like a dough--kind of....It is really thick and sticky.
The kids traditionally dressed for some omochi pounding.
In between poudning they soak the mallets in water.
Then when it is done, they eat it. It may be wrapped in seaweed like sushi or rolled in something that looks like corn meal, but tastes more like peanutbutter. One had some kind of tiny rasin-looking beans and was a bit sweet tasting (Tara, I am sure it had NO sugar in it!!! so don' worry about me!!!)
It does not really look tastey, but it is pretty good. The kids really like it!!
The tradition is to welcome good luck and happiness into the new year. Everyone is yelling something like "Yusho" over and over again. I asked one of the Japanese moms what it means. She said something like "cheer up". So have a look at Tara Grace giving it a try....


video


Below is the professional demonstration...I keep waiting for that man on the side to get wacked with that big o' mallet...

video

Snow in Tokyo!!!

The Georgia Snow arrived in Tokyo today!! Yeah!! It has snowed for the entire day, but there is hardly any on the ground. These pictures are all on my way to Tara Grace's school....
A corner in an area called Harajuku (yeah, like the Gwen Stefani song). The billboard is a GAP ad on the GAP store.




This is the edge of Yoyogi Park, close to our house.
There is a Cemetary in the background


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The Grocery Store




So Aaron and I decided we did not want to make the hour trip to Costco this morning so we would just get what we needed at the local grocery store. Here were are just a couple of blocks from our house SITTING in traffic. UGH!! This is unfortunatly so very common. It was cold and I did not wear my hat and gloves since we were driving or I would have jumped out of the car and walked to the store and met him there. CRAZY!! Isn't the view lovely?!! HA! We ended up spending most of our day runnig from one store to the next to get the list..Oh well you got some pictures to see now....


These pictures below were taken at "the cheep grocery store". I have to go to three or four different places to get all of the things on the list. But I will describe the process at OK discount grocery. I can actually park there. This is a novelty, but we like to go there for several reasons. One is that I can park there ~which when I am "stocking up" for our family of 6 is a nice thing. We also like to go ther because the prices are better than a lot of other places. As I pull up to the grocery store. There is usually a man standing there on the street. He very often is holding a sign. You see, there are only about 10 parking places at OK. If you don't have one, there are not many other places to park. I assume the sign says "full" or something like that?? But rememeber I am just guessing. It all looks like chicken scratch to me... If I really lucky, he me pull into the "lot" and wait, but even then there is only room for one car to wait. If it is full I have to do a few laps around the area in hopes that someone is finishing up at the ol' OK. If it is full and I am luck, my friend in uniform will direct me into the waiting spot. When someone leaves, another man in uniform working in the lot and not on the street will wave his arms and white gloved hands to usher me into my coveted parking spot. He will then push a button on the parking machine, walk over to me and with his white gloved hands very politey greet me with a slight bow (it sounds polite anyway) and wave his arms as if I were a queen of sheba and direct me to the entrance of the store. Once inside, I immediately go to the escalator downstairs. The only thing on the floor I have just walked onto is the four or five cash registers. So down I go to get myself a shopping cart. And you must not really think of the shopping carts at the super Walmart or at Publix, no no no!!! These carts have baskets that I first pick up and then put on the my cart. There are all kinds of things you will observe about this grocery experience. Above is our shopping cart. The baskets are picked up separately from the cart. So you could just carry the basket around like you do at Target when you do have alot of stuff to buy. The bottom "basket" is ours we brought from home. It collapses down and so is nice to use in the car or anywhere. We ar just making use of every spot on the tiny cart. NO ONE buys this much stuff...even at Costco they walk out with three or four items in their cart. We are quite a sight and turn many heads with our load. Especially as I take pictures as I am walking through the store...
Octopus and Squid---pretty average stuff, egh??
Can somebody tell me what aisle the Cheerios are on PLEASE?!!

I have not idea what this is or what most of the stuff is in the store ...



This I see stuff everywhere...it is some kind of dried fish...there are hundereds of the ENTIRE fish is in this bag.


Below is one of the many interesting vegetables we see at the Japanese grocery stores. I dont really know what this is, but I have tasted it. It is pretty good...


Below are pickled plums...wanna bite?




Above is a cooler of fish staring at the shoppers as they just lay there on the ice. I did not take any of them home...I guess we could have gotten a new pet??'

You know how the Japanese are big on handbags. Well I think they are so in to any kind of bag...they are just BAG people...NO they are package people. They are so garabage concious but you get packages inside of packages. Every thing is packaged....Apples each individually wrapped (see the price at the "cheep" grocery store about 186 yen per apple that is about $1.86 for one apple AT THE CHEEPEST store around!!??)


Below is another example...this is mayonaise. Two different kinds on the shelves. The bottle of mayonaise is then put in a package.

I just took a picture of my groceries on my kitchen counter so you could see EVERYTHING is in a package...asparagus, bellpeppers, green onions, bananas, cilantro, lettuce---everything

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Years at Meji Shrine

Praying at the foot of the alter of the shrine on January 2nd for the New Year. It does not usually have the white barrier you see or the orange cones. That is just because of the emmense number of people that come to visit. They even have a GIGANTIC tv screen to watch as you stand in line to get to the foot of the shrine...how nice of them. Again this is a time when I was closer to people I don't know than I could ever imagine being before I moved to Tokyo.....but when in Rome.....
Here you are suppose to wash your hands and rinse your mouth. I think it has too do with making your self clean for the Gods??
Crowds of people go to the shrine for New Years. It is the Japanese tradition to go to the Shrine and pray to the Gods for a properous new year. This is one of the most visited shrines in Tokyo and we can just walk there. We had to go....Aaron said it would be like living in New York City and never going to see the big apple drop...something you just have to do see at least once...We were just standing in the middle of the crowds of people and Aaron held up the camera and took a picture of the people behind us.
SOOO many people

Here they buy these boards and write their wishes for the New Year and leave them for the Gods to make happen
If the get a 'bad' fortune, they will fold it properly and tie it on one of these lines...here are many fortunes that people do not want to come true...