Monday, January 31, 2011

Wednesday Bento: Ski Obento

For my son who is crazy about skiing now :p

Rice with umeboshi inside
Decoration: green pepper, cheese, carrot
Boiled spinach
Ika to sato imo no nimono (boiled squid with taro)

Snow Monkey

We went to Shiga Kogen last two weeks for skiing and Iki wanted to see the snow monkey advertised around the Ryokan we stayed.

Last year we didn't bring him there but this year we thought he would be strong enough to walk so we agreed to give those monkey a visit :p

I didn't expect that we would do a winter hiking to reach the monkey area!! Good that Iki enjoyed the whole trip -which made it even longer :p

We had to walked through a snowy jungle

And a narrow slippery road

And also lots of slippery steps

Until we met this cutie

With his friends trying to warm themselves up in the hot spring

The whole hiking trip worthed it. We could see the only monkeys who wash their food before eating :p. It was a good walk. We saw a lot and surprisingly Iki had so much fun!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Flower arrangement: basic round shape

I joined flower arrangement again this month. This time I had to work
with fresh flowers, and I found it challenging.

This is an expensive new hobby, and I kind of like it. And it's nice
anyway, to have fresh flowers in the livingroom -eventhough only once
a month!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Hiro bought me snowboard and the boots, so that I won't get bored all the time waiting for him and Iki skiing. I tried snowboard before we got married and as far as I could remember, it was not as difficult as ski so I agreed to give it a try again this time.

Again his dream to go to the top of the snowy mountain together and see the breathtaking view melted me. Well, eventhough he knows that it would take years for Iki and (especially) me to go up to the top of the mountain :p

I surprisingly enjoyed snowboarding, though it is actually is not THAT easy. It's a very good exercise too so I hope I wouldn't be too fat putting on layers of fat to keep myself warm during winter!

So I do snowboarding now, while Hiro and Iki skiing. Iki also loves ski now, and Hiro is very happy with that!
Winter is just a month to go. I'm glad that this time the three of us can enjoy it more....

Friday, January 21, 2011


Iki kissed a girl yesterday. On her lips. In front of me!

I'm a shocked and brokenhearted mom....I feel like he would leave me soon!!!

It's not Japanese culture to kiss someone openly on the lips. Iki
might feel it's just a usual thing since he kisses me and hiro a lot.
But it shocked his friends who saw it too.

Oh well, maybe I should kiss hiro less in front of him so that he
won't kiss girls that easy...?

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wednesday Bento: White winter

This is Iki's Bento on his first week back to school after the winter holiday.

Steamed rice
Pork ginger
Cabbage salad
Snowman: hanpen, nori, kombu and ham


Hatsumode is the first visit to the shrine during New Year, where people pray for the whole good coming year. The shrines are super crowded during this period so actually Hiro planned to go there in the second of third week of January, when hopefully the crowd is lesser.

But Iki, who now learned a lot of Japanese traditional custom from his daily life, school or even television, asked Hiro to go to Shrine during last New Year holiday. Because he wants a daruma-san for his New Year good luck charm.

We went to a shrine in Sanno, about 1.5 hour drive from Tokyo. Iki could buy his Daruma-san there and then Hiro planned to go to big Outlet stores nearby. There were lots of small shops along the street to the shrine, so it was a good opportunity too to try some festival (and street) food of Japan.

And yes, it was very crowded. We had to queue in line for about 1 hour only to enter the shrine. And needed more than 5 hours to try to queue to the outlet store (then we gave up after 1.5 hour lining!) and to drive back home because of the traffic jam.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Oshogatsu (New Year)

New Year (oshogatsu) is the most important holiday in Japan. Holiday usually starts from 29 December - 3 January and most businesses are closed during that period. New Year is the time to gather with family and travelling from/to big cities could be a nightmare, as it is extremely expensive and crowded.

On 26th December, people usually change all the Christmas decoration with new year decoration, which are made by pine, bamboo, and plum trees. And inside the house, there is also a kagami mochi to welcome New Year.

People (read: Housewives!) clean the whole house before New Year (Osouji = big cleaning up). Such a hardwork for me, God I miss my maid in Sorowako, Maria during those awful time! But Iki helped me this time, cleaning the sofas and the whole carpets. Thanks, my boy!

On New Year's eve, people eat buckwheat noodle (soba) as a symbol of long life

The sunrise of the first day of the year is pretty important. Most people get up early, some go to higher buildings or mountains, or beach area for better view. Last year we had the first sunrise from our boat on the lake, such a beautiful once in a lifetime experience! This year? All of us were up late :p

The New Year meal is Ozouni, soup with toasted mochi on top. Ozouni varies based on each location in japan, and clear chicken soup broth is the based soup in our house.

It is eaten together with Osechi Ryori, a traditional Japanese New Year food, beautifully presented in a two or three layered traditional box.

I learnt to make this complicated meal in Sorowako last year from Mariko and Miwa, was actually tempted to buy the ready made from the store, but at last put myself into trouble and made them!!! I actually just finished preparing those food and took a bath just before 2010 changed into 2011!

But I am really satisfied and proud of myself (^___^). The pre-ordered Osechi is very expensive. One box cost like 200-500 USD!

There is tradition to visit temple and pray during the first three days of the year. I don't know when will we do it as temples would be full of people during those period. I think Hiro will just wait until the third week :p

2010 was a great year for us. It is our first whole 4 seasons living in Japan. I got a lot of new experiences and friends; and enjoyed every minute of it. I am so excited to welcome 2011, with whatever waiting for us there (^___^)

Happy New Year, friends. Hope 2011 will be a super year for you too!