Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Thousand cranes and a prayer board

Thousand cranes and a prayer board
Originally uploaded by Gunnella73.

Only in Japan - wheeling the kids around

Quite a large number of Japanese use their bicycles on a regular basis. After commuting between one end of the city to the other by train or trains, a bicycle is a welcoming home-like sight. Apart from the roads being tight and windy there is also the issue for car owners that to rent a parkingspace can equal the cost of renting an apartment. As soon as we got here the kids were flabbergasted over the flagrant disregard for helmets here. People on bicycles, unless hightech and wearing 300.000 yen uniforms do not as rule wear helmets, even the ones with two kids or more in various high gadgety chairs don't have a single helmet between them. Which to my kids seemed impossible. Even when we went and got them their bicycles we had a hard time finding helmets for them, regardless of the fact that we were in one of the larger Tokyo bicycleshops. Luckily they're both big headed ;-) and hence managed to get grown up ones, albeit Elena benefitting from a bit of padding.

Only in JapanBut the weirdest contraption I have witnessed here by far would have to be the kindergarden trolleys. Instead of taking the tiny 2-5 year olds out walking they're carted around like animals in a show cage or Icelandic highschool dimmitantes for that matter ;-) So what do you think? Normal or bizarre?
Only in Japan, the baby carriages

Captain Underpants and the Rainbow fairies

O.k. so the second Kyoto post has gotten a wee bit delayed, still haven’t worked through the photos you see ;-)
Anyways, been busy catching up on the kids and Halldor now that my course is finished and in so doing paying more attention to the kids studies. As a part of that I’ve been going overboard on buying them books, my philosophy being if they’re willing to read then I most certainly can afford the books! However as I glanced over my most recent acquisitions it occurred to me that the titles do give plenty of occasion for misinterpretation…
How about Captain Underpants and the Rainbow fairies…. Hummm ;-)

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Originally uploaded by Gunnella.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tales of Kyoto, part one

It was a grey and dreary day as we eagerly awaited the arrival of our benefactor (read Deirdre) who arrived looking even more grey and dreary than the day itself… But given she was about to take over “börn og ” as we’d say in Icelandic [1] she appeared as a ray of bountiful energy and light (I’m soooo going to get hit on the head when she reads this, in the most affectionate of manners of course ;-) So having ascertained she did indeed seem have an inkling as to what she was getting herself into we skipped along our merry way to the train station. First stop Tokyo then Kyoto! Once we made it to the correct train station (hey one wrong off when one’s got plenty of time don’t count!) it was shinkansen luxury all the way. Gorgeous view of Fuji san across the expanses of pollution spuming turrets as well as fun views of a very sleepy partner.
Once in Kyoto first stop was GAP! Where I bought what was to save my life during our two day sojourn there….a brightly coloured (yes me) humongous scarf to ward off the cold. It’s been so warm and springlike here in Tokyo we were seriously unprepared for the cold and heavy rain of Kyoto. But minor inconveniences like that were far from enough to detract from the bounce in my step as I approached these first two days alone with Halldor since…. Since…. Ahh yes since August last year when I sneaked off to Edinburgh on an impulse buying fit, but that’s altogether a different story.

Needless to say Kyoto was amazing! Dreary, colourful, cold, humid, mystical, buoyant, and had more great restaurants and temples than Rome has churches!! Our ryokan[2] was a very nice wee[3] place just by the river Kamo across which is the famed Gion quarter. So instead of doing the whole panicky touristy thing we did the lazy “couple away for a weekend thing in a culturally amazing place and two cameras” i.e. ate and pottered around aimlessly ;-) After having checked in and warmed somewhat we searched for a city bank[4] or a post office, the only two places one can safely withdraw cash from foreign credit cards in japan (beware of this should you plan on visiting) and finally found one on the top floor of a local department store. Now department stores here aren’t the seedy places one would assume from their brotherly counterparts elsewhere, but instead a haven for the rich and affluent (o.k. so it means the same but it had a nice ring to it) jewelry, imported shoes and…. The one place where you can always count on finding the, or nearly the, most expensive restaurants around… so guess what… well..we decided to reward ourselves and went in for an exorbitantly priced steak and Shabu shabu dinner. I don’t know if you’re aware of this but steaks here far surpass steaks in any other country, not merely in price but also in the fact that a bite will literally melt on your tongue…exquisite!

More travel tales tomorrow, along with some photos but now I had better drag my hard working man off to bed for some Dresden ;-) [5]
[1] children and home, still sounds better in Icelandic
[2] Japanese style hotel, with futon laid on the tatami straw matted floor and a low table.
[3] Scottish colloquialism, indicating smallness in an affectionate manner ;-)
[4] Pronounced “Shitty bank” not kidding

[5] Soon to be cult tv show based on the books by Jim Butcher about a wizard PI ;-) What’s there not to like?

Ladies we came accross whilst pottering around Kyoto ;-)

Pottering around Kyoto ;-)
Originally uploaded by Gunnella73.

We just returned home, knackered yet very content :-D

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Graduating bunch :-)

So yesterday I finally finished my language course with a grand graduation ceremony, the course of course being the main reason for which so little has escaped unto this blog of late. My sincerest apologies. I am indeed alive and well, the course was really hard but I survived for the greatest part ;-) and now have a month off until I start working on my research project at Kokugakuin University.
As is usual with these things tons of photos were taken, a number of which I'm now postin here so bear with me, honest though, there are more on my flicker page ;-)

All's well that ends well A Handsome bunch ;-)
We were made to each give a short speach and as usual the shorter they have to be the harder it is to actually get anything accross. Mine was on modern folklore and my research....
And finally my paper
Deirdres paper Keikos (Paulas) paper Nina givig her paper
Sweet ;-) Elena and Chawarom
Elena and Chawarom looking pretty, the kids were so patient (of course gameboys and books helped ;-)
The sufferin one ;-) ;-)
Humm food is worthy of indepth analysisUs finally having recieved our diplomas and then of course the requisite night out :-D Poor Halldor had to return home with the kids after a quick beer and a bite but left strickt orders with the other that I was to drink!! ;-)
;-) Finally BEEEEER! ;-)
All in all a good course, great friends made and a relieve to be finished with! ;-) Tomorrow we're headed on a wee trip to Kyoto just the two of us so should have lots of photos to post when we get back :-D