Thursday, November 21, 2013

Brrrrr it's cold!

Good Morning and Happy Thursday to all of you, my wonderful bloggie friends! It's cold here in Spokane today although the skies are gloriously blue. It was 17F last time I looked on our deck thermometer. Quite a change from the 60's and 70's we enjoyed last week in Japan. First I thought I would show you my knitting projects at the moment.

This first one is the yarn fellow blogger, lovely Gracie gifted me with. I keep putting it aside to work on other things but it's getting cold so I'm trying to make good time on it. Since it's only size 3 needles, it does take awhile to knit. I think I'm a little over 1/3 done with it.

This is a scarf I'm making for Harumi in Japan as part of her Christmas box. Scarves are very popular over there and people wear them when it's not even cold! It's an easy drop stitch pattern. I just started this yesterday afternoon and I'm almost halfway done.

Lastly are the socks that I carried along with me everywhere. I knit on the planes, in the taxi and on the bullet train! Otherwise they just sat in the bag while I went sightseeing.

I don't think I told you that we had two rather large earthquakes while we were in Tokyo. The first was Sunday morning. Hubby was still asleep and I woke him up so he wouldn't miss it. The other was Saturday night before we left to come home. He's traveled the world but never experienced an earthquake. Me, on the other hand, had lots of experience on my last trip to Japan after the "big one". However the epicenter with those was far away in the ocean, so even though they measured 7-8 on the Richter scale, they didn't seem too terrible. These two were centered right under Tokyo and measured in the 4 & 5 region. Doesn't sound too bad unless it's right underneath you. The second one was the worst with me jumping out of bed to catch Alex's T.V. just before it crashed to the floor. The building swayed and moved for about 20 minutes after the worst of it was over. Not fun. Alex says they were the two worst ones since he moved to Tokyo from Northern Japan two years ago. That is a worrisome fact in and of itself.

This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip. It was at the Ryoken where the group shower room is. Remember that from my last post? They provide these Nukata's for you to wear to and from the shower/tub room and to lounge in while in your room.

Christmas lights at Roppongi Hills. This is a VERY expensive shopping area in Tokyo, which is saying something. Tokyo is expensive anyway and this place is "over the top". Needless to say, we didn't buy anything, just enjoyed the atmosphere. Both Roppongi Hills and the Tokyo Tower are within walking distance of Alex's apartment.

Alex pointing out the entrance to Keio University where he is a translator. It looks small, but the campus goes on and on behind this gate. Many buildings and a big courtyard.

At the Edo museum. The Emperor and other high falutin' people rode around in these. The Emperor's feet were not to touch the ground outside, only special floors in the palace.

In Japan the majority of the restaurants have fake, (wax) food on display outside of the dishes that they offer. We went by the store that makes these wax displays. They look good enough to eat, don't they?

I found yarn at the 100 yen store, (like our dollar stores) and I bought three small skeins of yarn just to say I bought yarn in Japan!

Alex did a LOT of translating for us, although I could read the second sign all by myself.

Some of the goodies we had there. These are all sweets, famous in Japan and found only at this restaurant in Kyoto. Only chopsticks could be used to eat them. Actually, I've gotten pretty good with chopsticks, but these were wiggly little things and I had some trouble!

Like father, like son. Whenever we stopped for a minute or two, Hubby was answering emails and phone calls for work. Alex is working on a translation job so he would pull out his laptop. Here we were waiting for our lunch. While we were there, Alex had a book hand delivered to him by a publishing company. It was just published October 31 and he did the translation. It's about a person who walked the coast of the tsunami damage and wrote the story of the people. We're very proud of our son. I hope it's okay to brag a bit.

Our "daughter" Harumi who lived with us for two years while she was in Spokane going to college. She is a sweetheart and we adore her. She works for Ernst and Young in Human Relations and this is her office building. She took us to lunch on the top floor overlooking the Tokyo Imperial Palace. The second picture is her little boy, Harutaro and Alex. Harutaro was born one day after I arrived in Tokyo two years ago, so I was one of the first people to hold him! Alex is a Pied Piper with kids. I think he needs to go back to teaching elementary school. He loves kids and they love him too.

Harumi took us to Chinatown in Yokohama and we shopped and had lunch before going to her house and having pizza for dinner. She remembered how much we love pizza! Also the port of Yokohama. Important because it's where the "Black Ships" came and opened up trade with Japan and the rest of the world. Before that, Japan was an isolated country.

The bamboo forest in Kyoto. Notice the lady in a kimono and the monk behind her?

You saw ladies in kimono's everywhere you went in Japan. We did try to go to Gion and see the Geisha's, but although we walked around the alleyways for a few hours, we never were lucky enough to catch sight of one. This picture was during the day on a city sidewalk.

The Tokyo Tower, (orange colored) and the Tokyo Skytree. The Skytree is the worlds largest free standing structure. We were supposed to go to the top but it was too windy the day we had tickets and all tours were cancelled. We've been to the top of the Tokyo Tower before and it's a beautiful view.

Our last night in Japan we had dinner with Yoshie, (remember her from last summer?), and Mayako. They've both stayed with us in Spokane. We went to the top of Roppongi Hills tower, the tallest building in Tokyo. This picture was taken outside on the skydeck of the 57th floor about 1 1/2 hours before the earthquake I told you about. I'm so glad I wasn't out there during the earthquake. I don't like heights to begin with and I can't imagine begin on the outside of a swaying building. Especially one that tall.

One of the things that I love about Tokyo is the "citiness" of it. You can walk everywhere or take the subway. No need for a car. Within just two or three blocks of Alex's apartment are every kind of store you would like to go to. French bakeries, Fromongeries, (French cheese shop), dentist, doctor, supermarket, several convenience stores. The ease of living there and taking care of your daily needs is great. He walks about 15 minutes to the University for work. People are in MUCH better physical shape than we are here in the U.S. and they don't go to the gym! That being said, there is no place like home and I'm glad to be back although I miss Alex terribly.

Okay. I think I've inundated you with enough Japan pictures. I hope you've enjoyed them like I have. I'll leave you with one last garden photo. I just LOVE the gardens and trees in Japan. They take such good care of everything and are very detail oriented.

Aren't those colors gorgeous?

Have a lovely day my friends and I'll be here again soon.




  1. Hi Betsy, I'm so glad you had such a great time with Alex in Japan.. scary about the earthquakes. I was in a pretty big one when I visited my friends in LA. I just tell you I think you look gorgeous in these photos! You look so chic in your outfits! I'm looking forward to seeing you next month!
    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  2. This is an amazing post Betsy! I just loved reading it from beginning to end. Japan is such a lovely place for sure. How lucky you are to have traveled to such a beautiful place. And...your son! I guess you are one proud mom and dad!
    Glad your back!
    Hugs, Shari

  3. Betsy all your pictures are amazing. But what is so special about them is they tell us such a wonderful story. I swear you can see that everyone had a great time, you can also see the love you have for your son. I bet you miss him a ton, and yes my friend you can brag all you want. He sounds like a wonderful young man.

  4. Wow--that bamboo forest is simply amazing! I would love to stroll through there. The food looks great--yum! The kimonos are gorgeous and...of course you can brag about your son!
    Glad you had such a great time:)
    PS: Harutaro is adorable!

  5. Oh Betsy, I have enjoyed these posts on Japan. I find it so interesting to hear about other cultures. I am curious, how did your son learn Japanese? Was it because you had the foreign exchange students? How terrific for him! And I am sure you are bursting at the seams with pride!
    Oh, and the yarny things going on are beautiful! I so want to learn more about knitting!!!

  6. Hello my dear friend Betsy. I'm so glad you are back and that you and your family are safe after the 2 earthquakes. They terrorize me. It looks like you had an amazing trip and what great pictures you got. I'm glad you got to visit and spend time with your son. I also love your new knitting projects. I love how the drop stitch scarf changes color. Would you mind telling me where I can find the pattern and which yarn you used ?
    I'm so glad you had such a great experience, but I sure love that you are back and that I will see you soon. btw you look so beautiful in all the pictures 💜

  7. Taci- the pattern is Drop Stitch Scarf and it's free on Ravelry. The yarn is from Hobby Lobby and is the I love this Yarn. If you would like, I can bring some to you at Christmas.

    Kris-When Alex was 13 he met some Jr. high students who were here for 3 weeks one summer. Alex was beginning university that fall and by the time the students left after 3 weeks, he knew what he wanted to do. He bought his textbooks and was speaking Japanese before classes started less than a month later. He got his BA when he was 17 and his Masters at 19. He also speaks Chinese. I think he has been gifted with an ear for languages and music. He taught himself to play the guitar by ear also and can finger pick each individual note. He's very stubborn and won't stop until it's perfect, whether it's languages or music!
    Thanks for your interest.


  8. Hello Betsy, Yes those garden photo colors are most wonderful.. What super wonderful photos of your trip. Such a different way of life.. Your son seems very happy and content living in Japan.. That in itself is a true blessing. I am sure you miss him terrible but we are always Happy when our kids are happy, hey??

    I like you found a yarn shop... A dollar store even in Japan. Interesting hey??

    Take care and It is very cold here too... Stay warm.. Hugs Judy

  9. Hi Betsy!

    Thanks for taking the time to create such an interesting post.

    Your knitting projects are all beautiful!

    I especially loved your photos and narrative about your trip. I only got to see Tokyo after dark from an airport waiting room...lots of city lights!

    When Louis worked for IBM in Japan for six weeks he was glad for the plastic food, because he could just point at what looked like something he would like to eat to order it :)

    I love the pictures: of you three in your robes, your "daughters", the mall lights, garden and all!

    You have three wonderful children, and every reason to be proud of Alex and miss him when you are far from each other.

    I'm glad you are safely home!

    What are you doing to celebrate Thanksgiving?

    Gracie xx