Saturday, April 27, 2013

Kurihama Flower World (Kurihama Hana no Kuni)

I did it!!  I ventured off base AND on the train BY MYSELF!!!  Woo hoo!  :)  Friday, the kids and I decided to take a look at Kurihama Flower World.  I kept most of the park a secret from the kids, just in case I got lost or couldn't find the park.  So, we set out at 1040 and walked to Yokosuka Chuo Station.  It took me just a second to figure out which platform to stand on, but when the trains started coming they didn't have the cities I expected on them.  So, I had to dig for my train map to make sure I was headed in the right direction.  We could have made it on the 1108 train, but because I double checked the map we had to wait for the 1118.  Just a few stops down the line, about ten minutes on the train, we got off at Keikyu Kurihama.  I pulled out the directions I scribbled on a small piece of paper out of my back pocket and started looking for the East Exit.  After a quick restroom stop we found our exit and headed out into Kurihama.  Right off the bat, my directions didn't make sense, but I headed in the direction I thought was the right way from what I remembered from the map the night before.  We crossed the street and headed along the road I hoped was the right way.  Just when I realized I forgot to count red lights to make sure I turned at the right one, we saw a light post with pretty flowers painted on it.  Then, a big sign, all in Kanji, with a flower on it.  I decided to give it a whirl. If it wasn't the right way we could turn around and look on a different road.

We walked down this road for 15 minutes or so...stopping to look at the pretty azaleas on the way.

I should have started this post explaining that I have no idea what kinds of flowers we looked at....I am horrible with remembering the names of flowers anyway (it took me ten minutes to search the internet for the name azalea, and I had three of those bushes in my front yard in Mississippi!).  So, please forgive me for my lack of flower knowledge...and, if you know what they are, please fill me in! I'll number the pictures so you can reference them. :)

We arrived at the entrance to Flower World at just about noon.  We sat at the entrance and had our lunch while we walked around and checked out some of the flowers.

1.  This was in the entrance garden display


3.  Is this a poppy?  Kurihama is known for it's HUGE poppy display in the spring, and since I saw this flower in many different colors, I'm guessing it is the poppy.
After lunch, we headed up the flower paths.  The flower park was pretty empty, so we were able to walk around and take lots of pictures and check out the little bugs crawling around.  It was a nice, relaxed journey.  I'm not sure my kids will think the flowers are so cool the next time we go....

Mackenzie actually initiated this hug....she doesn't offer to hug her stinky brother often!

4.  Are those blue flowers also poppies?


Dare to be different!

This is a view of the park from the back to the front.  We climbed a staircase at the back of the park for this view.
Now, I let the secret out of the bag.  The big kid-attraction at this just the right time.  At the mid-point of the staircase they were both complaining about how much their legs hurt and they were ready to go home.

I said, "What do you think we will find if we go to the left?"  Garytt said, "A MONSTER!!!!!!!!  Hurry, let's goooo!"

Godzilla slide.  Enter into his belly....
...slide down his tail.

After the kids went down the slide a few times they decided it was probably much more fun to run around on the playground, which opened up a whole new kind of terror for me... in the world am I supposed to keep track of my kids in that maze, with all those people??!!  We walk up the steps and I put the kids next to each other and say, "you HAVE to stay together!  Mackenzie, keep an eye on your little brother.  Garytt, make sure you stay near your big sister.  I can't keep my eyes on both of you if you are in different sections of the playground.  I don't want you to get lost.  PLEASE stick together!"  "OK" they both say and start up the rope ladder.

The Boy started up first with Mackenzie just behind him (bottom left of pic).
Within minutes Mackenzie got ahead of Garytt.  When she got to the top she forgot all about her brother and started exploring the tower.  I kept moving my eyes from where Garytt was on the ladder to where I thought Mackenzie would exit the tower.  Once Garytt got to the top he started exploring.  I never saw Mackenzie come out of the tower, and then Garytt went in.  Once he was in, I lost sight of both kids.  Terror started to settle in the world was I going to find the kids!!!  I'd probably break a leg trying to get up that ladder....OMG!  So, I paced on the platform watching for the kids, finally, they appeared at the top of the hill. 

Once I got them back to me I had to make a decision....let them play, or go with my fear and tell them it's time to leave.  I sided with sanity....I told them where I would be sitting and to come check in with me every once in awhile so they would know when it was time to leave.  Garytt ran to the closest climbing contraption and Mackenzie headed back to the towers. 

Within minutes I noticed a crowd around Garytt.  The boys around him were pointing to his shirt (Star Wars) and they were all nodding and making hand gestures.  Then, Garytt and his entourage took off across the platform.  They played for over an hour.  Mackenzie would come back and tell me she found some friends and then run off again.  Garytt brought his friends over to say hi, the boys all said hi and waved.  Then, they took off across the yard, the boys stopped, turned back around to me and sweet!  So, I bowed back and they were off running again.

I wanted to make sure we got back to the train before all the school groups started making their way to the station, so we headed back toward the entrance.  I got several groans about the walk, but once I reminded them that there was an ice cream store back at the entrance they were ready to go!

Garytt had sweet potato

Vanilla for Mackenzie
We were back on the train and walking into the house by 1500.  Garytt is already begging to go back.  I have a feeling this will be a frequently visited park.  It was a cheap excursion....only 190 Yen each way on the train and the park was free.  The ice cream was the most expensive part...300 Yen per cone.  And, the biggest revelations of the day....I can find my way around without assistance and I can let go of my kids' hands every once in awhile so they can experience the world in their way!  :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ueno Zoo, Tokyo

We made our second trip into Tokyo yesterday...this time...Ueno Zoo. 

The morning started around 0700 with sausage, eggs, cereal and pop tarts.  Once the kids were dressed and our friends were ready, we headed out the door at 0830.  We walked from the house to the Yokosuka Chuo station (about a 25 minute walk) and made it onto the 0915 Keikyu Main Line Ltd Express train to Shinagawa (about 45 minutes, I think there were 5 stops).  At the Shinagawa St. we changed trains to the JR line and rode about 20 minutes to the Ueno Station (adult fare was about 810 Yen).  The entrance to the zoo was right in front of the station, so the walk was easy.  We paid to get in, my adult fare was 600 Yen and both kids were free (12 and under free!).  So, we set off to see the animals.  First stop...the panda bears!  All together now...."aaaawwww" 

Quick pose in front of the Thai Pavilion

There were two Giant having a snack and then the other was taking a rest at the back of the enclosure.  From here we made the loop by the bears and the tiger (who was in the lion's cage...not sure if the tiger ate the lion, or if the lion was in another part of the zoo...hmm?)  We saw lots of monkeys and some amazing birds!  I could have spent half the day trying to get pictures of the birds.  I'll have to list some names for you to look up on the internet because I am not too skilled at taking pictures of flying blur.  Unfortunately, the elephants were having their enclosure worked on, so we could only see them through foggy glass where they were  hanging out inside a building.  We were lucky enough to catch a sea lion hop on a rock and proudly pose for pictures while we were eating our lunch (well, Kacee and I ate lunch, the kids chased the pigeons between quick bites).  After the gorillas and the Bate Cave and the bison and prairie dogs we hopped on the monorail (350 Yen for me and two kids) and rode to the top section of the zoo (this zoo is more vertical than it is horizontal).  At the top of the hill we saw anteaters, penguins, zebras,  kangaroos, rhinos, a hippo hiding in the pool, pygmy hippos, crocs, turtles, flamingos and storks.

Bearded Barbed

Green Turaco
I can't find this guy's name.  I like his red mohawk!

The sign said:  Cock-of-the-Rock.  According to Google, it's a bird of South America

I can't find this guy's name online either.  I thought he was just a black bird (I was looking from behind) with blue eyes until he flew across the cage and I saw a brilliant flash of yellow.  It's surprising to see the black bird take off and then see the yellow flash.  I tried to get several pictures, but they kept blurring.
Batgirl found her batcave!
Enjoying a snack!  There was a baby running around the enclosure.  He was hard to get pictures of because whenever Momma moved, so did he.  He was a lot of fun to watch!

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She really liked the gorilla statues.

For some reason, this guy was in the lion's cage.  According to Zoonet, the lion isn't at the zoo anymore.  There was construction all around this guy's home, so we had to get through-the-fence pictures.  He is a BIG guy!

Japanese warning signs entertain me....Don't feed the monkeys!

Pretty sure she's pregnant. 

The kids were so excited to see flamingos since we read on Grandma and Grandpa's African Safari itinerary that they would be seeing flamingos on the same day!  The African section of the zoo was sooo interesting because Grandma and Grandpa have been teaching the kids about the animals they would see on their safari, so the kids were able to see the animals at the same time.

At first, I thought, "this poor penguin.  Either he is a really mean guy, or someone just doesn't like him.  And, didn't any of the mother penguins teach their children penguins that it isn't nice to call other penguins names?"  Turns out, this species of penguin, the Black-footed penguin from Southern Africa, is called a Jackass Penguin because he makes a sound like a donkey braying. 

Duck billed stork.  Quite an interesting creature.  There were a lot of people around the cage so I couldn't get a good shot.

This meercat must be the top cat...he just sat up  high and watched all the others play...

...and sleep.

Wisteria Garden
After the polar bear we went to see the sea lions.  They would zoom through the tunnel in front of us, Garytt was squealing with delight!  Then, we walked outside and found them zooming by the window there as well.  We watched them swim by quickly, some even slowed down long enough to get a little look at all the kids watching them.  Then, the guy above popped out of the water and onto a rock.  He did a great job of posing for pictures while we sat at a table nearby and ate lunch. 

We only got a glimpse of the hippo's nostrils....he was hiding underwater the whole time

We almost missed the giraffe.  They were all in the building in the back, and we could briefly see them walking around inside.  We started to walk off, then got distracted looking at a sign and when we turned back around this guy came sauntering out. 

5 story pagoda built in the 1600s.

At the end the kids played on the rides for thirty minutes or so.  We paid 1500 Yen for 6 tickets for each kid and they all rode six rides.

100 Yen for Mackenzie to take a helicopter for a ride.

This is upside down...but, it's Garytt driving a police motorcycle.

Mackenzie's turn on the motorcycle

The train ride home
We hopped back on the train just after 3 and we made it back to our apartment by 5.  The kids had a blast (so did I!).  And, the train ride is pretty easy.  There is a pretty big park surrounding the zoo, so next time I hope to explore that a little more.