Thursday, May 15, 2008

Japan V - I'm Out of Cheesy Horror Movie Titles

You're still with me? Thanks! This is the last Japan post, I promise. You can make it through! I even have a prize for you at the end...


We went to Kamakura. My dad's former boss (now retired) drove us all around. He gave us all some pretty handkerchiefs with sakura blossoms on them. YAY!

Big Buddha:

Doesn't that just roll off the tongue? Try saying it a few times just for kicks.
"Big Buddha, big Buddha, big Buddha..."

I don't know if you can really get a feel for the scale of that last picture, but the statue is big enough to go inside. Here is a nice view of the neck from the inside including reinforcements they had to make so the head wouldn't fall off. Brace yourself for statue guts:

[WARNING: The following picture contains graphic content that may be inappropriate for some viewers, but probably only ones that are squeamish statues.]

Just kidding.
I won't make you look at any more flower close-ups, don't worry.

But I didn't say anything about more cool roofs that happen to have cherry blossom branches in the shot! Bwa-ha-ha!!!

Okay, now that I got that out of my system...

So, I know I've already made this point something like 12,372 times, but the cherry blossoms were so pretty! Observe redundant proof:


I don't know how well you can see it in this shot, but between the two torii in the distance is a really long walkway covered in blooming cherry trees.

See? This was the long walkway covered in those bloomin' cherry trees.

This next section is titled "Everything Zen." (Ah, Bush. I hadn't thought of them in awhile... No, I'm not really a fan.)

Anyway, we saw several Zen gardens. They were very... Zen.

Because we didn't have to take the train, we got to stay out a lot later than usual. We got to enjoy the fabulous lighting of sunset at the last shrine.

Then we went on a "bonus" garden visit. There was a garden that they opened up after sunset during the cherry blossom season with everything all lit up.

I didn't take those photos. My camera and unsteady hands were having a hard time with the low light.

We came back kinda late and had "pizza" at in the mall near our hotel. If you can call soda crackers that someone waved near some sauce and cheese "pizza." I'm thinking that greasy pepperoni with extra cheese on a deep-dish crust just isn't very popular among the Japanese. Oh well, their loss. The Caesar salad was very good though.


This was our "open" day. My dad and his co-worker didn't have to work so we all got to hang out together. At this point we had managed to do everything we'd planned so we decided to focus on our remaining souvenir shopping and go to an island called Enoshima. The ocean was beautiful and the island quaint and relaxing.

Here are some views of the ocean from the island:

We came back to the hotel after lunch and then we shopped. My sister and I wanted to find an article of clothing as a souvenir. HAH! We might have had more luck had any of the department stores we went into had a "Plus" section. Or maybe more like a "Downright Fatso" section. My sister and I aren't overweight, but we are taller than a breadbox and our shoulders are more than 3 inches (7.62 cm) wide. They had the cutest shoes but they didn't make them in our size. Well, maybe in the men's section but adorable heels were a little sparse over there. I finally found a shirt that was a Medium/Large that I could wear. It's got this fabulously elaborate smocking on the front and it was probably supposed to be tunic length, so it's actually long enough to keep from exposing my muffin top. Just don't look too close because the shoulder seams totally ride up and give me that "fat guy in a little coat" look. (I seriously do have freakishly wide shoulders, even for a tall white girl.) My sister was not so lucky in the clothing department, so she got an adorable polka dot umbrella. (Getting that "weapon" home on the plane was a whole different story...) I also found Scott some Thomas the Tank Engine chopsticks and Claire some Disney Princess ones. Claire broke her last pair of kid-size chopsticks, so we really needed some more anyway. Gotta start 'em young. My children will NOT be the stupid Americans at the Chinese restaurant trying to communicate to the non-English speaking waiter with mystifying gesticulations that they need a fork.

That night we went out to dinner with the same gentleman that works with my dad who took us around Hakone the first day. He gave us all nice chopsticks in cases and he gave me some paper balls for my kids (I totally loved those as a kid). We went to a very nice little tempura restaurant. We got to watch them prepare the food. Now normally I am not that much of a tempura fan, but WOW. It was SO good. Not at all greasy and so light. However, they did serve us an appetizer that was some kind of slightly fermented kelp. Crunchy, yet with long strings of sliminess. I think it was the only food item the whole trip that I really had to "work" at eating without getting completely grossed out. On the other hand, I've decided I'm still cool because I genuinely enjoyed the deep fried legs that were left on the shrimp. They got so fried they were just like a powder when you ate them. Hard to explain but totally cool. We also got to experience a little earthquake while we were at the restaurant. Rockin' good time.

My dad had expressed to his colleague my sister's and my desire to buy some inexpensive dishes as souvenirs. We had been looking, but it didn't seem to be a popular tourist trap item. (Very fragile and useful? Who would want that?) So my dad's colleague said he knew a good place and took us there after dinner. He took us to the Japanese equivalent of the "dollar store"! We got to go to the 100 yen store. IT. WAS. AWESOME! It was hard not to take the whole place home with us, especially at that price. I still don't know if their "dollar store" was as much better than the ones we have in America as it seemed or if it was just because everything there was novel to us. Whatever. I'm totally going to remember the dollar store idea if I'm ever hosting someone who wants to buy American souvenirs - I bet it'd be great! I got more dishes than expected to because they were basically cheap as free. Check out my haul:

My original plan was just to get some little rice bowls like this. All my bowls are bigger than this or else down at the ramekin size. These are the perfect "polite" ice cream serving size. (As opposed to the Jethro size I really want.)

I've always wanted some square plates for the rare occasion when I serve sushi at home. Plus they're just so cool! M always scorns the square plates, but he wasn't there to stop me this time!!!

These were just "bonus." They're just so cute!

I also found this bowl for Claire (unfortunately not at the 100 yen store):

Let's just say that "O'Claire's" birthday may or may not fall on a certain day in March and this bowl made me think of her.


All we did the last day was get up early to ride the bus then wait in the airport forever because the bus did not in fact hit any traffic even though we had to plan for that eventuality. And don't forget not sleep on the airplane, of course, because my body is stupid.

Congratulations! You did it! You made it to the end of my Japan travelog!!! Thanks for perservering. In honor of your dedication, I have a souvenir for you:

Please, contain your excitement. I know you can just hardly wait to put this on your own blog. Well, right click, save, and display it with pride!


Ralphie said...

Love it G. Loved the pictures, loved the commentary. Loved it all. And the badge... love it a little less. But still, there's some love.

Where have you been? I wanna kick it with my hommies, G dog.

azufelt said...

Oh my gosh! Did I not tell you about the 100 yen stores?! I LOVED that place! I think their stuff was WAY better than American dollar store stuff! What a fantastic shopping experience.

After my visit I have the most fabulous sumo wrestler noren, and imagine this: TJ won't let me hang it anywhere in the house! Absolutey absurd!

Oh yeah, to M... square paltes are great, that fit in the cabinet better... no wasted space!

azufelt said...

Oh yeah... the badge, well go on and take a look at my blog to see if I made it through the WHOLE travel log.

I'll sport it with pride (but only for a short time!)

Reed and Liz said...

i will wear the badge with pride :)