July 29, 2007

Vegetable Garden in Downtown Tokyo

Our next-door neighbors rent a small plot of land from the ward for 5000 yen (about $45) a year. They often give us vegetables, and this afternoon they took T, R and me to harvest tomatoes. It's just a five minute walk from our apartment and feels like a different world. There are a few dozen small plots, a water hose, a shed full of tools and (I think) fertilizer. We are planning to enter the drawing in February for a plot next spring. The chances are good--most people are too busy to spend time gardening. I've heard that many cities in Japan have land like this available to residents.

July 27, 2007

Explo(ratorium) Itabashi

Tomomi noticed a blurb in our ward newsletter about Ekusupulo Itabashi, an interactive science museum for kids running from July 21 to August 19. They claim that it compares favorably with the Exploratorium in San Francisco. I chuckled over that because the SF Exploratorium is awesome and this is just a temporary ward-sponsored event. I had to eat a little crow because the kids and I had a wonderful time there. We spent several hours and still didn't get around to everything. Besides the educational fun, we loved that it was (1) free, (2) air conditioned, and (3) close--just three stations away in Kami-Itabashi on the Tobu Tojo line. If any Tokyo-ites are interested in visiting and need directions, email me (misterjeremy at seminoff dot fastmail dot fm).

A few photos:

Funhouse Mirror

Driving Simulator

Unlevel House

More Funky Mirrors

Rubber Bands and Pegs

There was a lot more but I was having to much fun to take pictures.

Mystery Quiz

When we moved into our new apartment in March we noticed these signs all around the third floor landing in our stairwell.

They are the symbol of a Shinto shrine. I couldn't get them all into the picture, but they are every couple feet all around the bottom of the wall. I didn't know what to make of them but knowing that Japanese can be superstitious, Tomomi and I gathered that something bad must have happened on that landing.

Imagine our surprise when a few days ago the fourth floor landing (our floor!) looked like this:

I had to ask the apartment manager what it was all about. His answer was something I never would have suspected. Guess what he said. (Put your guess in the comments and in a few days I'll add the answer to this post.)

[Added 8/4] Thanks James, Tomomi and Brian for the guesses. Here's what the apartment manager told me. Some of the tenants in our building have dogs and occasionally let them pee in the stairwell (maybe when they are lazy or the weather is too bad for a walk?). The Shinto symbols are a prayer or a charm of protection from dog pee. They say it works. Hmmm . . . is it the prayer being answered or are the dog owners just less likely to let their dogs pee on a religious symbol than on a blank wall?

D is Home

I was about to blog something else when I realized that I hadn't mentioned here yet that D is home. Let me remedy that.

D is home.

He and Tomomi came home from the hospital on July 16. They are both doing fine. T, R and I are glad to be able to hold him and play with him finally. He's beginning to get his days and nights the right way round but I gotta admit that after two nights I was sleeping right through his cries even though his crib is just two inches from my bed. Tomomi is a saint.

Here are some photos of firsts.

First time for T and R to hold D.

First bath.

July 16, 2007

Sunshine International Aquarium

Tomomi's parents took the kids and me to the Sunshine International Aquarium in Ikebukuro. These are some shots of the sea life.

Moon Jelly

Sunfish Closeup (R selected the right dress for the occasion.)

If you are in Tokyo it's a nice place to spend a few hours. Here is the official site (all Japanese as far as I can tell) and here are a couple reviews in English. The prices in the second review are out of date but it's more thorough.

July 13, 2007

Walk and Talk, or Sit Down and Shut Up?

I don't remember the exact quote, but I read recently that it's silly how we spend the first couple years of our children's lives trying to get them to walk and talk, and the next few years trying to make them sit down and be quiet. Good stuff for me to think about at this season in my life.

July 10, 2007

Happy Birthday T!

T just turned seven!

Sushi for lunch

Blueberry Cheesecake

Spiderman boxers from Auntie Molly's family

Legos from Papa and Grammy