"" Writer's Wanderings: Our Christmas Week in Japan

Monday, December 22, 2014

Our Christmas Week in Japan

There is no sweeter sound than arriving at an airport and hearing your grandchildren yell, "Grandma! Grandpa!" After a twelve hour flight spent with a Christmas movie marathon--we watched five Christmas movies on Bob's iPad, it was revitalizing to hear their voices. Narita airport is about an hour's train ride from their home in Tokyo so we spent some time catching up and then entertaining ourselves with electronics.

This was our first trip to Tokyo since we were here on our way to our son's wedding in Sapporo. It was the opportunity to look at the city in a different light. While we are still tourists of sorts, we now got to see Tokyo from a perspective of living there.  Our children's house is much smaller than what it was in Seattle and that has been a big adjustment for all of them.

My daughter-in-law has had to learn to cook in a kitchen that, while very nice, is about a third of the size she was used to. Since having a car is not a good option in the city, our son has learned to be a train commuter. Our youngest granddaughter had to adjust a toilet that made a slight noise as the seat heated up. She's adjusted fine now that the weather is colder and the warm seat feels good.

They are a great family that seems to do well with new things so after six months of living in the city, they had quite a long list of things they wanted to show Grandma and Grandpa starting with their favorite restaurants. Our first night was soba in a small restaurant near them. The wheat noodles were in different flavored broths and since I wasn't really hungry, I got to sample what everyone else got.

Our next day it rained constantly and we changed some plans and headed for a mall where there were Christmas decorations and a Santa. The Japanese love to dress the kids in outfits for pictures and the Santa line had several fur trimmed red capes and things to put on the kids for pictures with Santa. Santa was a little skinnier than ours back home.

Lunch was tappanyaki (grill) style. Think hibachi but smaller and you do your own cooking. Our young chefs wanted to show off their skills and we were treated to okonomiyaki and monjayaki. They are dishes that are cooked on the grill and have cabbage, seafood, flour and tempura flakes. I'm sure there's more ingredients but as it cooks and gets stirred, it thickens and gets crusty if you let it cook long enough. It tasted so good it was hard to wait for it to form the crust. There were several other side dishes we cooked including a big pancake type dish that our grandson showed us how to flip--a bit precariously.

Our last stop for the day was the Fujiko-F-Fujio museum in Kawasaki City, a part of Tokyo. Fujiko-F-Fujio is the original author of the Doraemon manga series. The cartoon character is a gadget cat from the future and has all sorts of things in his pocket to help his friends get out of trouble. The original drawings are featured in the museum along with lots of things for kids to do. There is an audio guide that is available in several languages and made it easy to follow along with the life and career of this amazing artist and author. As our son was telling us that Doraemon will also be in the US thanks to Disney, we were exiting the museum right into a souvenir shop--just like at Disney.

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