We’re staying in a more residential area of Japan this month, without a car. Our hosts who live on the property, Momoko and Tsutomu, have been kind enough to pick us up at the train station, show us around, and offer us rides when they are headed into town. (There are also buses from our neighborhood that run into Kyoto periodically, but we haven’t tried them yet.)
Japan will be the first country in ages (well, since June) where we haven’t had some sort of external childcare. We asked about preschool/daycare before arriving, but between holidays and rules about residency, there weren’t any good options. So, Brian and I are switching off time working and child-tending once again.
“Just one more minute,” Theo requested, as we tried for the third time to convince him to leave the display of rotating model sushi.
(If you look closely, you can see all three of us in this photo.)
Grocery shopping in Japan is an adventure because most labels are entirely in Japanese. This isn’t so difficult when we are trying to buy things like apples or carrots, but it becomes more challenging for purchases like flour and vinegar. Sometimes, I just have to guess and hope for the best.
On Saturday, we visited the Japanese macaques, often called snow monkeys, that live at Monkey Park Iwatayama in Kyoto. To reach the monkeys, we hiked up a fairly steep path for about 30 minutes. (Without a preschooler, it likely would have been closer to 20 minutes.)
(Okay, yes, this is a photo from the way down, but you get the idea.)
When I visited Japan almost three years ago, I couchsurfed with a family in Tokyo, and a six-year-old walked me through making model food with a candy kit.
After our phones alerted us to this earthquake (elsewhere, and we didn’t feel it at all), we had a discussion about earthquakes, which led to yet another discussion about death.
Do people die in this country? -Theo
Yes, people die in this country. People die in all countries. -Me
Will I die someday? -Theo
Yes, someday. Probably not for a long time. -Me
I don’t want to die. -Theo
I hear that you don’t want to die. Most people don’t want to die. -Me
I don’t want to die. -Theo
(Very brief pause)
Can we have lunch now? -Theo
(Theo, post-discussion, counting mochi to determine if we have the correct number for our lunch-time soup.)
We deliberately timed our stay in Kyoto to coincide with cherry blossom season. The blossoms themselves are lovely, but at least as enjoyable as the flowers is watching other people appreciate them. Strolling and looking at trees (or picnicking underneath them) seems to be an activity in itself, and almost everyone stops to pose for photos, sometimes dressed in traditional Japanese clothes.
As I’ve written before, this is a month without external childcare, which means less time to explore solo. I still really wanted to take a cooking class in Kyoto, so I decided to bring Theo to the bento box class at Cooking Sun. (Their registration form let me add a child under five for free so I took them at their word that preschoolers were okay.)
Theo and I walked to the local rice shop, only to find it closed. (Boo.)
Luckily, in front of the rice shop we found a rice vending machine. (Yay!)