Hi! We're back from Japan!
We had quite an adventurous time. It is an interesting experience bringing a somewhat large, loud and rowdy American family into Tokyo.
I never saw a Japanese family with three or more children there. Once in awhile I would spot a woman with a young baby, but that was about the extent of the visible children.
Even at Disneyland the place was filled with teenagers and young adults. Very few children.
We got a lot of stares when we lost Ender in the train station 10 minutes before our train departure and I was running around and screaming his name. But that was short-lived compared to the time we were waiting for a different train and to entertain Pineapple we were all playing ring around the rosy, London bridges, and Duck, Duck Goose. The sophisticated, quiet and well-mannered Japanese didn't know what to make of the ruckus we were making.
I wish I could say that we left with more quiet manners, but it just didn't happen. I did learn a lot from the Japanese however.
They are very organized. They have a place for everything and everything in it's place. They exude simplicity in their style and creativity. Even the city sidewalks are well manicured with clean cut bushes and swept streets. There is no trash on the ground anywhere. Every trash can is a recycle bin where you can sort your trash. Nothing is wasted. Also, there are sleek shiny grey bikes with big silver front baskets everywhere.
Besides their cleanliness; however, I was most impressed with the kindness they showed us. This was first demonstrated by many helpful Japanese who gave us directions. Often, if they could speak English they would approach us and ask if we needed help. On the subway they gave up their seat for me when I was with Piney. They never complained about Pineapple's loud antics, but would smile and shake her hand. On one occasion in Kyoto when we stopped to see the Golden Pavilion, our taxi driver asked in broken English if we had an umbrella. It was raining and we didn't, but we had hoods and I told him as much. However, after we paid him his $10 taxi fee he insisted on giving us a very nice umbrella from his trunk which probably cost him the same as his fee.
The next day we were in Nara and as we walked up to see the Great Buddha at Todaiji Palace a clean cut young Japanese man held up a sign saying, "FREE HUGS". I suppose he thought someone might need a hug that day.
There were other small kindnesses like letting us go to the front of the line because Piney was with us, or not complaining when Piney was watching a loud cartoon on our little DVD player on the train(we forgot the headphones). They taught me a lot about patience. We can learn other things from them as well...
Pineapple did love Disney and she got to see Minnie Mouse perform several times which was her favorite thing. There was a little scare when I temporarily lost her in Toonland. She was playing in a little park area. I looked down at my watch and up again and she was gone. It was so scary because I didn't know how to ask for help because no one could understand me that was nearby. Luckily she wasn't lost for long and everything was O.K.
Yes, we lost Ender and Piney on this trip. Did I mention how many people live in Japan? I think Tokyo Disney is the most crowded amusement park in the world. Not to make excuses, but it is easy to get separated.
We also were able to go to Odaiba and see cool futuristic hybrid cars, advanced eco-appliances, life-like robots that danced and played instruments. Also the kids were able to play video games not yet released in the states and we interacted with all sorts of inventions and hands-on manipulative exhibits.
I have photos, but I have decided to make a photo blog separate from this one that will just contain my photos, then when I want to show a photo on this blog I will link to it. When it is up and running I will link to it.
We are all glad to be back home and I will start up with my regular blogging service tomorrow. So glad to be back in my regular bed!
Labels: living in Seoul