Sunday, November 30, 2008

Temple town

After three days of riding Tokyo's modern metropolis buzz, it was time for a little change of pace, so we took an hour-long train ride to the seaside retreat of Kamakura, famed for its Zen Buddhist temples. The train ride was interesting enough - the train seats are heated, and almost uncomfortably so. After having read about the damage heated car seats can do to a man's fertility, it did prompt us to wonder about the potential effects on Japan's population growth.
Despite the hoards of tourists, the temples were surprisingly peaceful, contemplative places, full of beautiful trees and lovely, simple wooden buildings.
(and here's the food bit ...) And we managed to get a meal at a traditional Zen Buddhist eatery -called shojin ryori. We had another incredible culinary adventure - multiple courses of tiny, beautifully-arranged dishes including a spinachy green flavoured with wasabi, a rich stew and a sort of tofu burger that tastes far better than it sounds!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Kamakura - most photographed place on earth...

Flowers at zen temple

Today we went to Kamakura which is beautiful zen temples meets blackpool highstreet (yes including blackpool rock).

The first temple that we went to was Engakuji which I think is the most photographed place on the earth. Lots of people had tripods and VERY big lens. The tiniest detail was photographed all over the temple. I think I may have got something unique due to my different taller perspective ;) The photograph above was my fave of the day taken with my little Ricoh :D

Friday, November 28, 2008

Tokyo Tofu Restaurant

This was vegetarian heaven ... in fact, it was non-vegetarian heaven too. We have just returned, groaning and several kilos heavier, from the most amazing eight-course tofu-based banquet at the Kyo Tofu Fujino restaurant in Tokyo's Marunochi building.

We ordered a set banquet but unfortunately didn't hang on to the menu, so the following description is from memory, and therefore a fair amount of guesswork going on!

We started with a three-dish sampler that I couldn't even begin to describe, then chargrilled tofu, a glutinous mushroom and tofu concoction, a delicious salad of lotus root and tofu chips with a fabulous sesame oil-based dressing, a tofu steak and three veg, a selection of rice, soup and pickled veg, then the dessert - soy ice-cream with petits fours. The whole thing ended with a gustatorial bang - a green tea concoction that was intensely powerful and practically napalmed the palate clean. It was just amazing food ... a vegetarian Tetsuya-style experience and definitely one of the best meals I've had in a long time, both vego AND non-vego (GASP! What an admission!)

Tokyo Tofu Restaurant Tokyo Tofu Restaurant Tokyo Tofu Restaurant Tokyo Tofu Restaurant Tokyo Tofu Restaurant Tokyo Tofu Restaurant Tokyo Tofu Restaurant Tokyo Tofu Restaurant

Tokyo fish market

Sushi bar counter

I thought I was a seafood-eating fiend, but the Japanese put me to shame. Anything even remotely edible and marine-dwelling seemed to be on sale at the famous Tokyo fish markets, aka Tsukiji. I was really cursing my pregnancy (for the first time, I should point out), as I jealously eyed the busy counters of sushi and sashimi bars, some with large, patient queues outside them.

There were so many things I couldn't even begin to identify, yet still wanted to eat. It was probably a good thing that Phil stayed at the hotel, as even for a fish-coveting vegetarian, I think all that fishy death would have been a bit much.

Weird fish

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Would you like a jet of water up the arse with that?

I had heard so much about Japanese toilets - the heated seats, the electronically-generated flushing noises for those who suffer from shy bladders, the water jet - but didn't believe it until I sat on one.
I was freaked enough by the perpetually-warm seat, which makes you feel like you've sat down just after someone has been spending some serious 'quality time' on the same seat. It's also a bit disturbing to have all these industrious electronic noises coming from the general direction of your bottom.
But I defiantly drew the line at the water jet. Frankly, I'd be happy to go through the rest of my life without having a machine blast a jet of water at my nether regions.
That was, until I was sabotaged by my 'dear husband', who ambushed me as I sat, peacefully enjoying a quiet wee, by pushing the water jet button. Unfortunately, I wasn't even in the right position, so the water missed its target by a couple of inches and shot up my buttock cleavage. Probably didn't help that I clenched up like a reluctant clam.
But to add insult to injury, Phil failed to tell me that you need to push the 'stop' button to make it stop, so I sat there, paralysed with laughter, clenched like I have never clenched before, and powerless to do a thing about it.
I'm forever traumatised...

Sprouting my Japanese pillow?

Does anyone know what Marco Beans are? I can’t find out. I am worried about sprouting my hotel pillow...

Anyone that knows me well knows that I dribble when I sleep. That has been ok ‘till now as long as you don’t have long hair. Thing is the pillow in the hotel has a layer of Marco Beans in it and I am worried about my pillow sprouting. I have read the pillow instructions that I have included but they don’t answer my concerns. If anyone knows what they are and whether I am in danger of pillow growth please let me know.

Hotel Pillow instructions

Japan - Got here

Well we got to Tokyo safe and sound although very tired. We have a good view of the city from the hotel room and woke up to the sun rising. Now Bianca gets to try a buffet breakfast in a new country!


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Trimmed new beard

Had a haircut the other day because as the hairdresser said "you look like a bear" hair was VERY long and my beard was unruly.
She even trimmed/styled my beard.
Dont know if I am gonna keep the beard but it will be fun for our trip to Tokyo.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Sprout at 19 weeks

Sprout has had its second photoshoot, and is looking good. The obstetrician pointed all the important bits (except the REALLY important bits, as we've decided to leave that as a surprise), such as kidneys, heart, brain, eyes, legs, feet and hands.
We also got some of the measurements, and I'm relieved to discover that despite its dad's rather impressively-sized cranium, Sprout has a slightly below-average head circumference. However it does have slightly longer than average legs and arms ... we may yet strike it lucky with the tall genes!
It is also a very active little thing and is really making its presence felt with regular kicks. It might have got Phil's tall genes, but I'm starting to suspect a bit of my hyperactivity might have snuck in there. As long as it gets Phil's sleeping genes as well, that's just fine by us!