I like how every kid has their own secret language that only their parents can understand. This is more evident when children are just learning to talk. It’s not just a matter of decoding mispronounced syllables. It really is a mysterious language of grunts that few people can decipher. Since I’m the one who spends more time with the girls, it feels extra special when Aya doesn’t even have a clue what they are saying, but I do.
Six years ago I wandered into a bar in Kuki, Japan. I was giving Aya some alone time with her parents so I decided to set out on my own. Feeling a little overconfident and wanting a sense of independence and adventure, I hit the streets loaded with about ten Japanese words in my vocabulary and a digital translator dictionary that I had no idea how to work.
I think Japan has a thing for towers. There is the Tokyo Tower in the Minato district of Tokyo, the new Tokyo Sky Tree Tower in Sumida, and I here Yokohama even has a tower too. Something just makes perfect sense about building really tall towers in a country super prone to earthquakes. There is just something magical about a really tall tower. Add in some color changing lights and it’s even better.
One very popular winter fruit in Japan is a clementine, or they call them, mikan (mē-con). Are they the exact same fruit? Honestly, I have no idea, but I can tell you they are pretty darn close. Back home in Michigan, I love to get a box of Cuties and eat them three at time. Here, you can do the same thing, except you can do a lot more than just eat them plain. There is mikan juice, mikan flavored yogurt, jam, cookies, dressing, and cakes, just to name a few. They are even used as part of the traditional New Year’s decorations. They are so common this time of year you can see them growing on tress throughout the neighborhood. Mikans are definitely a sign of the winter just as apples are to fall in Michigan. And just how we can go apple picking in Michigan, we went mikan picking here in Japan!
One neat thing about the hot springs hotel we stayed at was they had, for a lack of a better term, a vintage game room. This hotel called this room tsuruya amakaze yokocho. It doesn’t translate to anything because it’s just the name of the room, not what it is. But essentially it was an old fashioned room in the stylings of the Showa period, focusing on the 1950s-60s I assume, where you can play simple games, have snacks, listen to music from the period and drink.