Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Kurisumasu

Christmas has well and truly arrived in Sendai, and nothing says Christmas quite like a giant inflated Santa/Buddha smiling serenely and dangling his nads over the heads of all the happy little shoppers. (We think they're supposed to be his feet.)

In fact, there are loads of great seasonal displays up all over the place, which is actually quite odd because we've been told that Christmas Day sort of creeps by unnoticed here. Apparently it's a hot date day, and couples go out for a romantic meal of KFC chicken (in place of the not-quite-readily-available turkey dinner). New Year's celebrations are more of a family get-together event, so all this Christmas-y build-up kind of amounts to not much.

But the Japanese love a good excuse to dress up/decorate things/enthusiastically but misguidedly embrace things from the USA, so here we are.

Our friend Tristan put white shoe polish on his beard and went all out with the Santa-san thing. It's a good way to meet giant tanoki on the street.

Closer to home, Mirabel made a delicious Christmas cake (thanks for the recipe, Mum).

Snowy scenes down our street. The snow here is most excellent. Unlike Christchurch snow, it is totally devoid of accompanying rain, so it settles easily and stays wonderful and fluffy all day.

We borrowed a little potted conifer tree from our friend Jill's school tea lady to act as our Christmas tree. It's modestly decorated up top with Mirabel's origami half-animals but stacked lavishly with presents underneath. Thanks, families!

This is the advent calendar that Mirabel made me for my birthday. Each day is a beautiful little colourful surprise. Not long to go now...

Hearty Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Let it snow let it snow let it snow

Tonight it is snowing and we are dreaming of a white Christmas.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tokyo adventure day four

D I S N E Y L A N D!
D I S N E Y L A N D!

Determined nothing would ruin our day in the land where dreams come true and magic lives, Gareth and I darted around Disneyland like little sprites, ignoring the queues and wintry weather. We were filled with glee and wearing furry mouse ears.

And what could make Disneyland any better? ... KURISUMASU! Nobody does Christmas decorations or cheer like Disneyland.

Making good use of the Fast Pass system, the longest we had to wait for a ride was 40-50min and that was for the Haunted Mansion -- Nightmare Before Christmas themed. The highlights of that particular ride were Jack Skelington and other puppets talking to us in Japanese, and an incredible ghost scene that used projections to create the most amazing 3D effect. I don't know how they did it but I am determined to figure it out.

The costumes in the Christmas parade were incredible. Look at the planes' wheel shoes!

Lemon-honey churros were delicious. We also tried honey, chocolate, and curry flavoured popcorn (that's three different flavours, not one)!

Wacky props-based fun in Toon Town.

The short but sweet Gadget's Go Coaster.

The legendary Splash Mountain -- we did this one twice!

An excited Gareth when we realised the Star Tours ride was actually all about Star Wars!

Spinning Teacups -- more fun than you think!

Two happy, exhausted mice. Ready to catch the night bus back to Sendai!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tokyo Day 3 bonus art edition

Just a little note about the great art we saw in the gallery Sasayu took us to -- Vacant.

When we visited, two works were being shown by Mai Yamashita and Naoto Kobayashi, a japanese couple based in Germany.
They knit for giraffes, lick giant lollies, slow down shooting stars, carve mountains from logs, grow plants in their hands and give you nice dreams.


"Present (for Giraffe)"

"How to make a mountain sculpture"

You can see more of their work at their adorable website

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tokyo adventure day three

Day three began with us avoiding the highly efficient and incredibly handy train system that had served us so well over the previous two days in favour of sauntering around the Shinjuku area a little on foot. The little alley above was in Akebonobashi, where we were staying. We were hungry for breakfast, and had our first bagels in months at a cute little cafe down there and around a corner a bit.

After breakfast we stumbled upon a little fair of some sort with loads of stalls leading to a shrine. So pretty and colourful.

Later we wandered around a very cool place called Shimokitazawa, which is a great collection of vintage clothing stores and cafes and so on in a uni student-y area. And after that we tried to make it to the Tokyo Modern Art Gallery, except we got sidetracked by another shrine and didn't get there in time.

And in the evening we met up with our friend Sasayu, who we met at a Sendai art opening a couple of weeks before. She took us to see a really amazing art show which included a lovely projection of multi-coloured buttons falling on the stairs.

Then it was a late, late dinner, and off to bed in anticipation of a big day tomorrow...