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Wednesday, 12 October 2005
Mana got a cold...
Recently summer has ended and fall weather has settled in. Someimes it's hot and sometimes it's cool or cold. And again it gets warm and cool again....Mana started coughing from yesterday and today she went to see a doctor with Daddy who is also under the weather.

Now Mana is...
3 years and 4 months old.
14.5 kg (about 30 lbs).
99 cm (about 3 feet 3 inches).

Well, hope you all are fine!

with Chappy (Girl)

Our neighbor Chiba-san took this photo with her cellphone. Thanks!!

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM KDT
Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005 9:05 PM JST
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Sunday, 9 October 2005
Shinagawa Aquarium
The middle day of the three-day weekend. Yesterday we went to Akihabara which is well-known as a place where you can get all kinds of electronic items. We didn't have a specfic reason to go there, just for fun, I guess. There is a big brand new electronics store called Yodobashi Camera and we just stopped by. Stuart had a good time looking around at all the fancy computers, flat screen TVs and other things, but Mana wasn't happy at all.

Today we are going to Shinagawa Aquarium which has a dolphin show. Mana will love it!

When we got there, we saw lots of people lining up to enter the aquarium and a sign saying "Please be aware that you might not be able to see the dolphin/sea lion shows." What! No way! We took an hour to come here just for that. We have to see a show.

So we went straight to the stadium and got our seats somehow and enjoyed the sea lion show and the dolphin show. Actually, Stuart got up to walk around with Mana during the intermission, and couldn't get back in because so many people were crowding into the stadium. So I paged him and he waited outside until the dolphin show ended. Then he and Mana fought their way in and we managed to see the final dolphin show of the day. (It was fun but we don't think we will come here again very soon...)

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM KDT
Updated: Tuesday, 18 October 2005 11:17 PM KDT
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Saturday, 1 October 2005
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and Ueno Zoo
We knew that it is not easy for us to go to a museum with Mana, but we decided to give it a try anyway. And we went to Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum to see "Ancient Egypt Exhibition (L'homme Egyptien D'apres Les Chefs D'ceuvre Du Louvre)" which ends next day. It was the very first time to exhibit Louvre Museum's Egyptian collections in Japan.

The museum was too crowded to use a stroller and we had to leave it at the front. Soon we gave up seeing small collections and forcused on only bigger collections. Stuart usually takes time to read each explanation, but this time the explanations were written only in Japanese and French. Of course he can read Japanese, but needs more time to read those long explanations. To let Mana have more fun, we asked her her impressions of the exhibits. As compensation for putting up with the crowded museum, we went to Ueno Zoo next door.

<- "MANA" in Egyptian hieroglyph?

October 1st is the special day in Tokyo. You can use some facilities in Tokyo for free. Ueno Zoo is one of them we can enter for free today and a few minutes away from this museum.

It was our second visit and today we just let Mana chose what she wants to see. We saw a tiger and an elephant pooping in front of us. (A tiger pooped in the pond in the cage.) This is, believe it or not, good luck in Japan, because the word "unchi", for poop, is close to the word "un", which means luck or good fortune. Go figure!

Please click here to see more pictures!

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM KDT
Updated: Friday, 7 October 2005 10:16 PM KDT
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Wednesday, 28 September 2005
A Cute Surprise!

What a cute surprise. Our neighbor's cat Maru-chan was taking a walk on our balcony. She looked like "Oops! I'm busted. Gotta run!" She jumped off the balcony and went back to her home.

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM KDT
Updated: Friday, 7 October 2005 10:03 PM KDT
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Monday, 19 September 2005
Ghibli Museum, Mitaka
Today is the last day of the 3-day weekend and we have planned this beforehand for Mana.

Mana kept asking us where we are going and we said, "We are going to see Totoro." But Mana didn't look so excited about it until she actually saw the building named "Ghibli Musuem"". Mana zoomed there leaving Mommy behind.

This museum was established by a well-known Japanese animation company "Studio Ghibli" founded by a famous animation creator Hayao Miyazaki. His recent famous works are "Sprited away", "Princess Mononoke" and "Howl's Moving Castle", but the most popular one for kids is, I assume, "My Neighbor Totoro". And that big fat round unknown creature with Stuart and Mana on the picture is "Totoro".

Mana really loved playing at "Neko Bus Room". The Neko Bus is one of the characters in My Neighbor Totoro and as you can see from the name, it is a cat and at the same time is a bus. There is a big cat bus and only kids can play with/inside it. They wouldn't let Stuart play despite his repeated requests.

This museum doesn't allow visitors to take pictures or videos. The sign says "Please keep your memory inside." We hope Mana had a good time.

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM KDT
Updated: Friday, 23 September 2005 11:06 AM KDT
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Monday, 12 September 2005
Time To Say Good Bye...
Mood:  sad
The last day for Miki, Momo and Obaa-chan. They are quite satisfied with what they did so far, but for enjoying a little bit more Disney feeling, we decided to go to "Ikspiari".

Takao (Miki's husband) who was actually in Tokyo for a business trip since last Saturday joined us. Kids were again very excited when we found the Disney store and took advantage to ask Obaa-chan to buy toys. (Thanks, Obaa-chan!)

We (Mana and Kayo) are very happy to see Takao because he is always extremely busy and we barely see him when we visit Shimane. He looked happy to see us and of course his family.

It's time to say good bye and it was so painful for me to see Mana's sad face. Momo in contrast looked OK. I remember last time we left Shimane, Momo was very unhappy. I guess the one who is left feels more sad than one who leaves. A few big tears fell from Mana's eyes when their bus left, but soon she started playing with the Mickey and Minnie dolls that Obaa-chan bought for her.

Hope we can meet again soon.

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM KDT
Updated: Friday, 23 September 2005 11:06 AM KDT
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Sunday, 11 September 2005
Tokyo DisneySea!!
Mood:  happy

Tokyo DisneySea!! It is the very first time for all of us to come here and we just hope everything goes smoothly. (You know, we have to be efficient so that we can enjoy as many attractions as possible.)

As soon as we entered, we found some Disney characters walking around (or being mobbed by) crowds. Come on girls, let's finish our business first. Go! Get yourself in that crowd! (Too bad we missed Minnie Mouse.)

Because of fatigue from yesterday or because we have no idea about this place, our start wasn't as smooth as yesterday. And we soon realized that DisneySea is more likely for grown-ups. It wasn't easy to find good attractions for kids.

Right after the spectacular show called "
Mystic Rhythms", we found that the sky was really grey and covered with heavy clouds. It looks like the rain is coming soon. Then the sky started rumbling and we rushed to the next show called "Encore!". Unfortunately, when we got the theater, the show was cancelled due to the approching thunderstorm. We were eventually stuck there for a while because it started pouring. Well, since we couln't do anything, we decided to take a break until the rain stopped. (We were also hoping it would stop raing.) The girls were still happy and entertaining themselves quite well. Oh, and we were very impressed by how fast the staff took care of this situation.

In the end, we were able to see "Encore!" and afterward the rain turned into a sprinkle.

It is almost 8:00pm. We got our viewing spots and are ready to see the last show called "BraviSeamo!. This is the main nighttime entertainment at DisneySea and some visitors start waiting for it an hour before so that they can see it from a good vantage point. Unlike those people, we took our spots less than 30 minutes before, but it wasn't bad at all.

The story about "Sprit of Water" and "Sprit of Fire" is played out on the water and it was very dynamic and beautiful. Miki said, "Next time I want to come here with my husband!" Yep. At night this place becomes more romantic and there are lots of couples.

We had a wonderful two days at Disney World and we will come back here again someday.

Please click here to see more pictures!

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM KDT
Updated: Tuesday, 4 October 2005 2:29 PM KDT
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Saturday, 10 September 2005
Tokyo Disneyland!!
Mood:  happy

Here we are at Tokyo Disneyland! We can't tell Mana that Ikspiari (The shopping mall next to the Disneyland) is Disneyland anymore. Before exploring, the first thing we have to do is get a "Fastpass". Instead of waiting in line, you get this ticket (specific for each ride) which tells you the time you can attend and until then you can enjoy other attractions. We all heard that "Pooh's Hunny Hunt" is the most popular one, so we should get the pass for that.

Looooooooong lines are everywhere. It took about 30 minutes to get on the first attraction named "Peter Pan's Flight". Well, everyone knows that we have to line up and wait a while anyway, so I shouldn't talk about waiting time anymore.

Mana asked Daddy to ride the merry-go-round, but as we expected, she wasn't happy at all. She looked scared and was about to cry. Only Daddy enjoyed it.

Sometimes we can see a bunch of people surrounding something/somebody. Yep, they are Disney characters. It is not easy to take a picture with them. There is quite heavy competition. If we are lucky, we get the so-called "Gaijin Tokken" (Foreigner privilege). Sometimes people are nicer to foreigners, so this time Stuart got that privilege.
Cinderella and Prince Charming took one look at Stuart and Mana waiting for their turn for the photo, and they called Stuart and Mana over. Thanks to them, I was able to take a good picture! They were not only very beautiful but also very kind!!

After lunch, we decided to try the "Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour". However, as soon as we got there, we regretted choosing this attraction. Because we saw the sign saying "Please be aware that this tour is quite spooky for little kids." Oops! we don't think Mana would like it, but we were already in line. Well, why don't we give it a try. And this is Mana after the tour... Sorry Mana.

After the scary tour, what made Mana happy again is "Pooh's Hunny Hunt". It is well deserving of its reputation as the most popular ride for kids. Even Obaa-chan liked this. Right after this, the battery of our digital camera ran out.

The parade at night was impressive and beautiful. It wasn't easy to see all the Disney caractors during the day and now we saw them all at once. Everyone looked happy.

It is time to go and we took another ride on "It's A Small World" before leaving. Incidentally, "It's a Small World" is the only ride that Stuart remembers from his trip to Tokyo Disney 20 years ago. Well, time to go home and tomorrow we are going to DisneySea! Everybody get some rest.

Please click here to see more pictures!

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM KDT
Updated: Friday, 23 September 2005 10:41 AM KDT
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Friday, 9 September 2005
Mana's Happy Day!!
Mood:  happy
Obaa-chan (means grandma in Japanese. Kayo's mother), Miki (Kayo's older sister) and Momo (Miki's daughter, 5 yrs old) finally came to Tokyo! We will have a super fun weekend!! Mana and Momo are super happy to see each other.

Their main reason to come here is going to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea and we will of course join them!

OK, kids! Go to bed and sleep tight!

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM KDT
Updated: Friday, 23 September 2005 11:05 AM KDT
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Friday, 2 September 2005
Having dinner with Noriko & Keiko (MIIS grads)
We again had a small MIIS grads reunion here in Nishi-kasai. Noriko lives in Ohio and came here for her friend's wedding party. Last time she came to Japan for renewing her visa, Keiko hasn't settled down in Tokyo, yet. So they haven't seen each other since they started pursuing their interpreting/translating careers after graduation. It looked like they had a good time catching up with each other.

Please click here to see more pictures.

We also shared pictures Yoko sent to us a few days ago. Yoko and Joe's wedding pictures! We all are happy for Yoko and Joe and enjoyed seeing their wonderful pictures of a picture-perfect Southern California wedding.

Link to Photo Album Yoko and Joe's Wedding

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM KDT
Updated: Monday, 5 September 2005 1:40 PM KDT
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