Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Saturday at Summerland

Over the weekend, for Conor's birthday (which is officially today, the 30th --he's 8) we took the boys and Conor's friend Charlie to Summerland, a 'Water Adventure' park about an hour outside the city. We totally lucked out because there was almost nobody else there and the weather was mild enough. Oh, and the boys loved it. Two other families we know went as well, the Leitheads and the Popes, so there was a small British School contingent roaming the grounds, and everybody always had at least one other person their age on hand to play with.

I managed to snap some pictures while the sun was out. Somebody should paint those slides orange or yellow or green or something other than light brown...I'd even settle for white! The water looks pretty though.
This fort thing is cool, with its water cannons and large bucket that fills up and tips over on a regular basis.Conor, standing on the deck (below), tries to convince Charlie to go on one of the slides, but Charlie wants to float down the river on a raft.
So Conor heads up the stairs on his own.
The slides aren't all that exciting, as it turns out (the shorter/ steeper ones at the other end, the slides with a height limit, are the real "screamers") so now Conor is back in a tube, catching up with his friend.
The Ferris wheel and roller coaster are just beyond the picnic tables and loungers and this other part of the "Monkey Float" pool. Everything is connected, and you pay one price to use it all.

Dylan, with Rupert, on the tire swing
Using the lily pads to cross over

There's an indoor bit as well, where the wave pool is, the one featured in various Youtube videos, the ones that made me think maybe we shouldn't come to this place. But apparently nobody goes to Summerland in September, and most of those who do stay inside, where the air is nice and muggy, like those special tropical bird exhibit halls at the zoo.
You can kind of see the wave pool in the background here, and two of the tamer slides.
Wait, here's an even better shot of the practically empty wave pool...It's getting late and the sky has clouded over, but still the kids won't quit. That's Conor and Charlie running on the deck, below. And that's the pirate ship ride in the background, up the hill. I think it's called "Super Bounty." Terry and Dylan went on it four times.
Every so often the kids would hit the "spring house" hot bath to warm up.Dylan (red trunks) is back in the water for another round of jump-the-stumps. Or, as the kids called it, a game of hot lava. The point is to scamper/scramble across the floating logs and stumps (which are anchored to the bottom of the pool, but can easily tip) without falling in, and to be the first to make it across. Here Conor is in the lead, crawling on all fours.
Beyond the hot lava tank (in the background of the photo above) is the real screamer slide, the one the adults did, the one that requires you to lie flat, arms across your chest, ankles crossed, cheeks clenched...

But at this point we are just waiting for the boys to admit what their blue lips are telling us: that it's time to go...

To help pass the time, I forced Terry to pose for a series of self-portraits. My aim was a little off.

It's nearly 5pm now. Our friends split a while ago. We are among the last to leave...

The train ride back was a snap, only about an hour from Akigawa to Shinjuku (by way of Haijima), and then a quick transfer to the JR Yamanote line, and on to Ebisu and then home...

Monday, September 29, 2008

So, Annette, we meet again...

That weird exhibition that creeped out my kids is still going on over in Roppongi Hills. I came across this advert near the entrance to the Mori tower last Tuesday, so now I can give you the visual of the bat that I described in my earlier post, about the day my kids learned that art was something to be feared. (Good job, mom.)

Anyway. Last Tuesday Terry was off while the banks closed in honor of Autumnal Equinox Day, or Shu-bun-no-hi, the midpoint of the season and a time to pray for your ancestors and visit their graves (or headstones marking the spot where the ashes are, as everybody here is cremated). The British School was open for business as usual, as they follow their own calendar (BST rocks) so Terry and I had a chance to do something we used to do a lot before becoming saddled with so many grownup responsibilities. We went to the movies.

First, though, we paid our respects to Maman the giant spider, people-watched from a bench in the shadow of her egg sac and snacked on shrimp tempura rice balls, which came wrapped in a banana leaf.

Random photo -- crazy-beautiful flowers (vanda orchids) in a shop windowSo we saw Wanted with Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy (which shows too many closeups of people being shot through the skull, but is otherwise entertaining) and then had lunch. We had already settled on Pintokona, which does kaiten sushi (my favorite because the food rolls past on a conveyor belt and you can start eating the moment you sit down) so we only stopped in front of this restaurant guide so I could snap a picture. The choices in this town always seem endless, especially at the mega-mall/office complexes like Roppongi Hills.
Random photo 2 -- little girl on a cell phone
Last stop of the day: Rolling Stone Cafe, which has a bunch of framed magazine covers on the walls and a little poster tribute to Hunter S. Thompson. It also has this great big outside deck, three stories up and set apart from the street, which is nice, and the place was empty when we were there, except for two ladies and their two yippy poodle dogs.
The drinks:
The view looking the other way and up at the sky:
Self portrait by camera phone, propped up by a 100-yen coin:

Eventually I had to go and collect Dylan from a playdate at his new friend Elijah's apartment in nearby Moto-azabu. I took this from their deck, where you can see the Moto-azabu Hills Forest Tower, a.k.a. the Mushroom Tower, a luxury residential building that also houses an international kindergarten and a dental clinic. I kinda like it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

ah, boys

My dear, sweet swashbucklers

The children are learning how to make weapons at the Children's Hall wood shop. We have quite a supply of swords and rubber-band shooters, hidden away in a kitchen cabinet above the fridge (I usually have to confiscate whatever they make as soon as we leave the Hall, put them away when we get home and then the kids forget about them). Before we leave Tokyo I will have to take a picture of the pile in the cabinet before I drop it all into the bin in the basement marked "combustibles."

Here they are now, charging out of the wood shop, where parents are now asked to wait outside, (which I happily do)...

school boys

Just out the door...
On the side street around the corner from school, outside a parking garage, we bump into some friends...
This is Charlie (left) and Joe, two of Conor's pals from his class, "Year 3 Red." That blue netting you see draped over the fence is what people all over the city use to cover bags of garbage they place by the curb for pickup. It helps keep it all very tidy, except it looks like they missed one...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Last week I went to the Toni & Guy salon in Jingumae...where you can have two guys at once!
It was Hikaru, this guy in the white shirt, who did the actual cut, and some finishing touches with wax and spray. Alas, my hair doesn't look like that when I do it. It looks more like this:

It's all the new layers, you see...

What's this?

Multiple choice question:
"Slob Oxidized Sophistication" is a:
a) clothing store
b) jeweler's
c) salon
d) bar
e) all of the above
The place is in Shibuya, up the street from the British School, across from a parking lot (sorry, "car park" - I'm still learning proper English). I can't give you any more clues...it was closed when I walked past at 9 am the other day. And everything is closed in this city (even grocery stores and gyms!) at that hour in the morning...