Utsunomiya, The Return (s)
First, a couple of baby shots... for my mom in Canada! Keita is enjoying life on the tatami mat here in Imaichi, though it has been cold and we've had to fire up the heaters to keep things cozy for the little guy.
He's also taken a liking to this ball Takeshi bought for him, I've got a video of him attacking it which I'll post later.
On Tuesday, we headed into Utsunomiya with little Keita to do some shopping and visit two of the most important places for me while I was in Japan... AEON, where I taught for almost two years, and Cafe Praktica (link on the right!), probably my favourite restaurant... anywhere... Here is the little guy on his first visit to Cafe Praktica, he seems to be enjoying it so far!
Going back to our old favourite, both Yoshiko and I went for the Vietnamese Curry... FANTASTIC! Oh how I missed Praktica!
Ako-san was quite happy to have us drop by and get to see the baby, she even walked him around a bit to let us finish our meal... can't beat that service.
Luckily, Kanako-sensei was able to drop by and see Keita as well, she's one of the lucky few at AEON to have met him since there was no one around when Yoshiko and I dropped in.
And here, not the greatest group photo, but it'll do! Bye Bye Praktica! See you next time!
Yesterday, I hopped on the train by myself and headed back into the 'Nomiya to do a bit of walking and reminiscing and to have a drink with some of my dearly missed Japan friends. One big change to downtown Utsunomiya is this new building on the right near Futara-yama shrine, which has really opened up the view of the greenery up in the shrine.
They're in the process of demolishing the buildings to the left and I assume they'll do the same thing there... that's great! Nice to see some progress in beating back the concrete. They even tucked away the little lotto shop which used to be smack dab in the middle of the square, much less obtrusive.
And of course, the shrine itself is still an oasis of peace in a sea of madness...
The big disappointment of the day was when I went up to the curry shop to grab dinner and found it closed! I've been dreaming about their Sauce Katsu-don for months! I was so disappointed I didn't even bother seeking out another restaurant, and settled on a Lawson's Bento... :-(
The definite highlight of the day though was getting together with everyone at the Lion's Head for a couple of beers. It was so nice to see everyone and get updates on who's married to whom and living where now... things change quickly out here! I unfortunately had to duck out early and catch the last train at 10:45 back to Imaichi. When I got home, little Keita was still waiting up for me, which was nice... I'll miss the little guy next week on my odyssey to West Japan...
And that's that for now! Off to Tokyo for 2 days!