Monday, October 5, 2015

Aunt Tisha and Uncle Clayton Visit Japan-land! Part 1

This is another one of those stories that has a "before" and an "after" with a major event sandwiched in-between...more on that later!  

I've debated what to title this blog, there are so many good choices:
"Fun Times with Family"
"What could go wrong, did"
"Natural Disaster Preparedness"
"How to Totally Blow the Mind of an Over-Planner"
"Travel Plans, What Travel Plans?"
"Fun Times When Things Go Wrong As Natural Disaster after Natural Disaster Totally Blow the Schedule of an Over-Planner"

That sounds about right!  So...without further adieu...

Aunt Tisha and Uncle Clayton visit Japan-land!!!

The first couple days were pretty easy.  We didn't want to overwhelm them in the first few days.  After their arrival on Sunday, we had an easy burgers and beans dinner, then an early bedtime.  

On Monday, we were up by about 0900, some earlier than others :) Clayton and I decided to take a walk while the rain had slacked off.  You see, we were on the edge of the first, yes, I said first, typhoon's rain bands.  Walking shoes on, passport in pocket, and phone in hand...out the door we went.  We made it to Womble Gate before it started to lightly rain on us.  We took a right turn so we could head toward Verney Park to check out the view from the water.  Well...we almost made it to Daiei Mall before it started really raining!  We decided to head back, as it rained harder and harder.  By the time we got to Main Gate we were drenched.  Clayton's passport was starting to wrinkle on the edges and I was praying all the rain hadn't ruined my phone.  We made it back to the house by 0600 completely and totally soaked!

Once everyone else was up, we made our way to one of our favorite parks in the area....Kannonzaki.  

A girl and her matching "Pew Pew" shirts
She could spend all day searching for treasures on the beach.

Wow, Mom!  Look in there!!!

Brothers on the Rocks

After a stroll on the beach and then a bit of wandering up the stone path, we went back to the car and drove to a little secret parking spot on the other side of the park.  Then, on to the best part of this park....the roller slides!!!!

There goes Uncle Clayton!!!  

On our way back to the car we passed these beautiful sunflowers

After heading back to the house for a bit, we changed into clean clothes and then made our way back out on the town.  First, Homes so they could look at the Japanese furniture we love to sit on.  Then, Sanwa to experience a Japanese grocery store in all it's awesomeness!  Also, to buy a few neat snacks.  

After this, we made our way to dinner...kaiten sushi, aka conveyor belt sushi, aka sushi-go-round.

Clayton ordering and receiving his sushi order via miniature bullet train

Aunt Tisha's hamburger sushi  :)

That night we had a little fun with one of the treats we bought at Sanwa...toilet candy.  Yup, you read that right....toilet candy!  

Aunt Tisha helping mix the sugar and water in the toilet bowl.

After a little fizzing, both kids enjoyed their potty candy, their toilet treats, their hopper full 'o sugar.

Day three:

Here's where change number one comes in...the original plan had us in Chiba on day three.  However, between the two typhoon that were now swirling south of us, we decided to spend a rainy day inside. So, we made our way to Yunessun in Hakone.  You can find a post all about that excursion here Yunessun .

For dinner we decided to hit the Daiei and grab some tonkatsu...tasty fried pork things.

Tisha's picture...she had the one in the middle

Day four:

And....another change to my beautifully constructed travel itinerary.  What was supposed to be a day exploring ancient Japanese samurai stomping grounds turned into a day full of noodly deliciousness!

CupNoodle Museum

After a yummy lunch at World Porters (Kris, Clayton, and Tisha had ramen; the kids and I had bread, bread, and more bread from the little pastry shop)

Pumpkin pastry...getting in the Halloween spirit!  On the right, the world's largest pyramid of ramen containers is in the works.

 The beginning of the tour...checking out the growth of the ramen industry, all starting with Momofuko Ando's one little idea...drying out the noodles and packing them in a way that allows the best reabsorption and heating.

Here it is...the cups are placed on top of the noodles to allow for a pocket of air at the bottom of the cup so that the water seeps down under and around the noodles for cooking.

Silly room.  Wow!  Garytt grew!!

And, now we make the noodles!!  Buy your cup and then clean your hands.

Decorate your cups

 Fill your cool cups!

Put the cup on top of the noodles, turn the handle and the cup flips back over.

Choose your flavor and pick your fillings.

Watch the shrink-wrap magic

 Put them inside these amazing CupNoodle bags!  Easy peasy!

Time to head home...uuhhh...that's definitely a typhoon rainband.  I think we will wait a few minutes to see if it lightens up.  Well, it's not slacking off.  Lets stand in the doorway until the crosswalk light turns green and then make a mad dash across four lanes of traffic.

Day four:

The plans for this day changed two or three times.  With one typhoon moving off the coast and another one right on it's tail, we decided it might be best to head to the other side of the country and escape the rain for a bit.  So, off to Matsumoto we went!  

The day started off rainy, but by the time we were a few hours away from the east coast it started clearing up a bit.  

The pictures when we first arrived are full of clouds, puffy and dark.  I think it sprinkled on us just as we were getting to the front gate of the castle.  But, once we made it through the castle and back down it cleared up and we had a brilliant blue sky over our heads...finally!!!

The last time we were here the bridge was under construction, so there were orange cones and ugly stuff all over it.  This time we were able to see it in all its reflective glory!

Somehow I've missed the sign that explains the deal behind that stone outline you see in the grass in front of the castle.  It says that the outline is to show where the original castle grounds stood.  Matsumoto castle was built between 1592-1614.  The original castle was built in 1504, Fukashi Castle.

There's that blue sky!

 What a difference a beautiful blue sky makes!  The "Crow Castle" standing proud!

After a beautiful day exploring Matsumoto Castle, we piled back into the car and made our way to the New Sanno, where we had room reservations for the night.  Once checked in, we decided to get an easy dinner, since traffic made the trip a little longer than we thought.  So, CoCo's curry it was!  Yum!  Our favorite!

Day five:

Another day, another change!  We had a bit of a snafu with our plans for this day.  We decided that the Ghibli Museum was a MUST DO while they were here.  Well, I found out the hard way that if you want to go to Ghibli, you have to plan like four months in advance!  The tickets are available at Lawson's on the first day of the month for the next three months.  Turns out, those things sell quick!  And, if you aren't there on the first to get your tickets, you're out of luck.  :(  With that option off the table we decided to fill the day with fun in Tokyo!

First stop:  Tokyo SkyTree!   Figuring out the train system.  Then, we went 250 meters up that beauty!

Second stop:  Asakusa...old Edo style entertainment!

Getting fortunes...this time they were all good.  It took some convincing, but even Boy got a new fortune.

 After walking around the grounds of Senso-ji Temple, we started to make our way to Kappabashi.  And, on the way, we just couldn't pass up these amazing kakigoori!  Shave Ice!  I can't quite remember all the flavors....I think there was a watermelon, a cola, a strawberry and condensed milk, a plain condensed milk, and a grape, and Mackenzie got Hawaiian Blue, whatever that is.

 Tall man at a tiny table

Our third stop for the day was Kappabashi...the kitchenware district.  So. Much. I. Loved. About. This. Place.  WOW!  I'll have to go back so I can do a whole post about this amazing place!
As we were heading back to the train station we happened to see this beauty tucked away between apartment buildings.  We aren't sure what it is, but we think if we just walked around to the other side we could have gotten up close and personal with this treasure.

We couldn't spend too much time wandering around because we had a date with a Tokyo skyline sunset at O'Daiba!

And, this ends the first part of the trip.  Up next...More fun and then, "The Incident Heard Round the Daiso"....or, as I like to call it, "The Most Exciting Day That Security Guard EVER Had!"...but, don't worry, that didn't keep us down.  We were able to squeeze in more fun after "The Incident".

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