Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sayonara Japan

  This will be the final blog post of Albericosan, as we approach and end to our time in Japan. It is hard to believe that we have been here for almost two years, and while we fully appreciate all that Japan has taught us, we are very ready to come home to our friends and family. 
Adriana is now 19 months and fully into the toddler stage. Thankfully she now sleeps through the night and prefers her crib, it only took 16 L-O-N-G months.  We have fully weened her off the bottle, which went on longer than it needed to; next is the Binky... While she is super cute and we adore her, she is currently a giant pain in restaurants, trains and near escalators, as she has no fear.
We recently had some friend's visit us in Japan so we decided that this would be our last big hurrah.  We spent one week here in Iwakuni, taking day trips around the area and then finished up the trip with 5 Fun days in Tokyo. 
First off was a trip to Itsukushima, or more popularly known as Miyajima Island which is known for its floating Torii Gate, free roaming mini Deer and Mt. Misen. 
Paul was mad that of course the Torii gate was under construction during our visit. 
Anytime anything is painted in Japan, some serious over the top scaffolding goes up. 
The island has many Shinto and Buddhist temples which were fun to explore.
We took a Skyway up to what we thought was the top of Mt. Misen...we were wrong! 
We still had to trek an additional mile plus uphill to get to the top of the damn mountain. 
I was NOT physically or mentally prepared and I hate surprises, but I did it. There were women in high-heels and elderly people doing the climb which was motivating. We were promised monkeys, but saw none. The views were nice even if it was overcast. 
 Adriana was apparently very tired, even if she hitched a ride the whole way
Floating Torii Gate (plus scaffolding) at Sunset on our way back to the ferry
The next day we went to Hiroshima to visit the Peace Park and for the boys to go to a Carp's Baseball game. Adriana had a blast running around the park which was packed with kids on a field trip from school, most in uniforms or matching hats.  At the baseball game, the guys made friends with 'little Hiro,' and taught him the cool new J-fist bump that defined the rest of their visit.
Next up was a road trip to Tsuwano which is referred to as "Little Kyoto" and is known for its Steam Engine Train, Koi Ponds and Taikodani Shrine which has 1,000 Torii gates and yet another climb up, this time not so bad.
Adriana and Bilroy got a lot of "Kawaiiiii" from the locals.
Day 5 in Iwakuni we took it easy and hit up the local Kintai Park.  The flowers were beautiful, and Adriana tried to walk into the river a hundred times.
Eventually, after a bullet train ride riddled with toddler outbursts, we made it to Tokyo.  We stayed at the New Sanno, a military operated hotel in a nice part of the city.  We had a relatively short walk to Shibuya, the Time's Square of Tokyo.  It is amazing how big the city is, and despite the congestion and language barriers, we were able to navigate pretty well.  We enjoyed a couple drizzly days until Adriana's main event...
For the most part, Adriana behaved beautifully, and was a wiz with subway navigation.  But she had her moments too...
The boys ate different ramen almost every day of the trip, but this one was unique: topped with a big handful of cheese and canned corn.  Not our favorite, but interesting.
Tokyo Disneyland
Adriana had a blast.  She behaved like a dream and enjoyed tons of fun rides.  For some reason, the theme of the park was Easter.  We saw pretty much the whole park in one day.  Adriana's favorite was Alice's Tea Party.  

Adriana rode elephants in toddlerland, and we cut the line on some photo-ops.
All in all it was a great day for everyone.  A was so pooped that we had a hard time getting her up for the next big event...
The Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market 
 This place was insane.  We got up EARLY to beat rush hour on the subway, and made it to the market before 8AM.  It was still packed with locals and tourists.  After a few laps, we had an amazing sushi breakfast.  We got lots of souvenirs, including an ultra-sharp knife from a famous vendor for P.

We still had a full day of sightseeing to cram in before the boys left, so we spent it in Harajuku and Omotesando.  Great shopping, including a fun hat shop where Adriana was the guest of honor, and a huge toy store: Kiddy Land.

Some fun Engrish:
I think this one was supposed to be Candy Striper, not Stripper.  
At the toy store, A got to practice her latest obsession: stairs. 
The boys celebrated their last night together, and then we all headed home.  Another long train ride, but this time Adriana was great.
Now it is time to prepare for our big move back to the states in August. Lots of planning involved and the weather is about to get really hot and humid. We are really looking forward to spending sometime in Texas before we land in Mississippi for our next adventure...

Since we skipped so many months of the blog, here is a montage of some of our favorite pictures from the last 8 Months:

 Koh Samui, Thailand

 St. Patrick's Day
Having Fun
Friendship Day
Sayonara, Love the Albericosans