Sunday, October 25, 2009

Chillin' in the Prefecture

Well it's been almost a week since my return from my little 2o some odd train, 1700 kilometer tour. We haven't been up to much, just relaxing and trying to get our little guy settled down some. He hasn't taken all that well to being away from home, and this is probably the worse age to travel with a child as well, since he can't understand what's going on, but it's slowly getting better.

We have had a couple of outings worth mention, just running around Northern Tochigi a bit. The day after I arrived, Wednesday, we took Keita out to a really nice park between Imaichi and Nikko. This was/will be the site of the Soba festival shortly, lots of green grass, lovely view of the mountains.

After an initial attempt at playing at the large park, where he wouldn't leave other kids' toys alone (there's that "not understanding" thing), we exiled him to the other side of the park, where there was a little play structure and a lots of space to run around. Our little man is always most happy when it's snack time, this day was no different!

Here's the structure for those who "don't play well with others"... lol Keita didn't seem to mind.

On Thursday, the whole gang packed into the car and we headed up into the hills towards Nasu, with the intention of visiting the prefectural aquarium up there. When we got there however, we were surprised to find the gates shut! Unfortunately, we'd gone and driven the hour and a half up here on the aquarium's "4th Thursday of every month" off. Lovely! We were planning on visiting Yoshiko's uncle/aunt while we were up here anyway, so we ended up there a bit early is all. After coffee with them, we hit the road again and headed to yet another nice park for a picnic. The park seemed to be an outing destination for schools as we saw quite a few groups out and about, matching hats and all.

After lunch, and having let Keita play for a bit, we headed up a little further into the park where there's a bit of a farm/petting zoo/amusement area which Yoshiko and I had visited back when we were dating. Our little guy had fun running around and mooing at all the animals. This little goat down below decided to make a break for it as we entered the enclosure, and had to be corralled back in by my father-in-law.

Keita didn't really know what to do with these goats, who quickly crowded around looking for food... one even grabbed a bite out of my shirt.

After sampling some of the farm's wonderfully creamy ice cream, we headed on back home, with plans to retry the aquarium thing another day. Kind of funny that we ended up there on the one day during our entire time we're in Japan that the place was closed... oh well.

We tried again on Saturday morning, with Yoshiko's brother coming along for the day this time. Gates were open as we came in, and the aquarium was all decked out for Halloween, complete with underwater graveyards. Keita having recently learned the word "fish", he kept running around from tank to tank pointing out that these were all in fact fish. Cute!

The aquarium included a tunnel through an aquarium in which these massive (largest freshwater fish?) were swimming, I believe they're from the amazon. Keita ended up more enthralled with the scuba diver doing the cleaning in the tank.

After a good hour in the aquarium (recommended for anyone living in the area for sure, 600 yen is on the cheap side for entry fees to these places, and it was better than the one at Shinagawa), we headed back outside into the expansive grounds of the aquarium.

And what's a visit to an aquarium without a good koi feeding? This pond was full of the buggers, and they put on quite the show as they tried to get at the food we were throwing.

While Keita enjoyed throwing food at them, his impression of the squirming mass of fish was "yack". His word, not mine...

So that was that, after a rather difficult meal at Denny's, not the same as back home, just another family restaurant... we headed on back to Yoshiko's aunt and uncle's place where their grandkids Yuna and Shuka were home from school. Keita got to play around with them for a bit, in between trips to the ubiquitous snack bowl, present during any visit to a Japanese home...

Today (Sunday), Yoshiko, Keita and I drove into Utsunomiya for lunch at Cafe Praktica (again for me) and to show off our little man. He did a surprisingly good job, thoroughly enjoyed Praktica's fabulous quiche and we got in a bit of shopping before heading on back home. He's now passed out upstairs, poor little guy is still getting over jet lag... as am I actually... toss and turn for a good part of the night, though that may be due to sleeping on the floor, can't wait to get back into my own bed!

Just a week and a half left before we fly back to cold cold Canada. Hope the snow holds off for a bit more so I can get my yard work done. And I guess I'll have to start thinking about the return to work at some point, though for the first time ever, work is in no way on my mind. Nice to be able to make a clean break for a holiday!


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