Busy Week with Visitors

This week we had visitors — Matt and Frank flew in last Saturday, and we promptly stuffed them full of Japanese food, and took them around to the sites. I took a few days off, but poor Jen had another crazy work-week, so mostly she tried to meet us out for dinner when she could. The three of us had a ton of fun though, and I got to try some new things (like Curry Tonkatsu — Japanese curry, which is not spicy, but sortof tangy, and distinct from its originating Indian curry, although apparently Japan now exports its own product to India. One of the pre-made ones is called “vermont curry”, no idea why. And Tonkatsu is breaded fried pork cutlets. Altogether delicious, although a little hard on the arteries.) and we also went out to Mount Takao on Tuesday, which was gorgeous. It’s only an hour from Tokyo, but the mountains and views are lovely, and the walk winds up through temples, cedar forests, and food stalls. (I didn’t take my camera, so these are all from my iphone and slightly lower quality — sorry.)

Tara and the flying squirrel statue at Mt Takao

View from Mt Takao

Mt Takao’s famous long-nosed goblin

Temple Buddhas on Mt Takao

Octopus statue on Mt Takao (it was next to some crazy roots that looked like octopus tentacles, but i was particularly taken with the statue)

The humidity in Tokyo continues, so we’ve been waging a battle against mildew in our apartment. One of those unromantic downsides of living here — we’ve got dehumidifying thingys everywhere, and one industrial strength machine up in our room, but still we’ve lost a number of shoes and purses, and we regularly wipe many of our surfaces down with bleach. So Saturday was a cleaning day (and also a playing with the kittens day).

Takahadafudo temple and shrine sale

Then this Sunday we headed off to Takahadafudo with Trudy to check out the shrine sale there. Unfortunately it started to rain, so most of the vendors covered all their stuff with tarps, but we still managed to score a couple nice obis and a statue (and Jen bought several small decorative things.) We grabbed some lunch and headed back to Tokyo where we decided to sit on a coffee house patio and people watch. After the hectic couple of weeks we’ve had, it was really nice to just sit there, chat, and catalogue the strange variety of shoes on the passing crowds. There was also a random omikoshi parade that went by (where crews of hoppi-coat-wearing people carry the heavy shrines through the streets, shouting and banging bells/drums/etc). We hit up a kaiten sushi place for dinner (a sushi-go-round!) and then headed home, only to discover that it’s also the festival day for the local shrine which is right behind our compound. They were doing a cool dance under the lanterns around a drum tower. A rather drunk woman tried to explain the meaning of the dance to me in her broken high-school english, but at the point where she started saying “grandfather — tree!” “grandmother — tree!” I decided to just nod politely and escape as soon as possible.

Dance and drum tower at Hikawa Jinja

Dance at Hikawa Jinja Matsuri

Taiko Drummer at Hikawa Jinja

She was most likely trying to explain respect for the aged day, which is tomorrow. Which means we get a 3-day weekend! So tomorrow we’re headed to Sumo. We’re both really excited, and we will certainly report back after. And I also still owe you all a friendship-day taiko post.

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