35 Weeks!

Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2010 | 0 comments

5 weeks to go, and Sigourney is still kicking away. I think she's trying to dig an escape route out through my right side at the moment, actually.
Tonight was also another big milestone in this pregnancy...I gave up and begged Yuki to trim my toenails for me. (They seem to be growing like crazy for some reason). Poor man! While I probably could've still contorted my body in such a way so as to cut them by myself, I finally accepted defeat and admitted that it's much easier (and less painful) to have someone else help me. Although I still feel bad about having him do it! Especially since he had to go and clean the cat litter boxes directly afterward.

                                               35 Weeks

As a frame of reference: with Sushi, who's about 3.2 kg or 7 lbs

Yuki is thrilled with his new job

Adult Kit Kat

Posted on Tuesday, September 28, 2010 | 0 comments

                       An adult Kit Kat has made its debut...or rather, a Kit Kat marketed towards adults. I could've sworn they made one of these last year too, but perhaps that one was for men?
  In any case, this is a dark chocolate Kit Kat, not nearly as sweet as your regular milk chocolate ones. Yuki and I gave it a 9 or a 9.5 out of 10. Defiinitely rich and of a higher cacao content. With chocolates that have a higher sugar to cacao ratio, I always feel the urge to keep eating, probably since they don't tend to satisfy me like darker chocolate does. With this Kit Kat, however, I was quite content after 2 bites. Good  job, Nestle!

Akino Fuku Musuem

Posted on Sunday, September 26, 2010 | 0 comments

   Yesterday we drove about an hour and a half to visit the Hamamatsu Akino Fuku Museum. This little museum came highly recommended by someone who works for the Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC). I had initially never even heard of Akino Fuku, but after researching the museum online was interested in going just for the building alone. I tend to love architecture, and this structure is a work of art in and of itself.
  ...But...the works inside also just happened to be shockingly...spectacular. I honestly could've stayed in the gallery for a good few hours, staring at some of these pieces. Keep in mind that this last comment comes from someone who grew tired of the Louvre in less than 2 hours and instead wanted to go back outside and view the edifices.
  I would have loved to have purchased a print of at least 1 of my 3 favorite paintings from the gallery, but the ones that were available for sale sadly didn't do justice to the actual works. This woman worked some kind of magic with lighting: I wanted to walk into several of her larger canvasses.
  Sadly, there doesn't seem to be much about Akino Fuku's life online in English, although I did find this link from the national Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto (MOMAK): http://www.momak.go.jp/English/exhibitionArchive/2008/363.html
I do know that she spent time in India (which largely influenced a lot of her works), and also in I think Africa, among other countries. If I can find any more information on her, I'll be sure to add a link in a following post.

              Eel lunch before the museum, courtesy of Yuki's generous uncle and aunt


                   Akino Fuku Musuem in Hamamatsu (Hamakita/Tenryu area)


                                        The artist herself

                                        Museum Lobby

                        The galleries (unfortunately, no pictures were allowed inside)

               My 3 favorite pieces (but as I said, these don't do the actual paintings any justice): 
                            Desert Guide, painted in 2001, the year she died

                       Ganges, painted in 1999  Again...you really need to see it in person

                          Udayagiri Monastery I, painted in 1992

8 and 1/2 Months

Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2010 | 0 comments

                    6 weeks to go, give or take! At this point, I'm getting stared at by roughly 2 out of every 3 drivers whenever I go on my morning walks. You'd think that Godzilla had arrived or something, honestly. Everyone keeps telling me that I'm HUGE, although I've gained just under 20 lbs to date, and Yuki swears it's all in my stomach. Of course, he could also just be blatantly lying in order to make me feel better, too. Whatever the case, we're going to work on packing on a few more lbs, since I've got at the very least 8 more to go to meet US requirements. By Japanese standards, I'm fine, but Godzilla probably needs a few more pounds than your average female here since she's such a big monster and all.
                Sigourney Weaver is doing well and was head-down again at the last check; judging by the way this kid squirms around though, I'm wondering where she'll be at our next office visit. She's currently using my right side as a drum, meaning it's time to go eat some lunch!

                                           34 Weeks

New Chinese Restaurant

Posted on Monday, September 20, 2010 | 0 comments

                                  We happened upon a new Chinese restaurant yesterday while out driving...for the life of me I can't remember the name of the place, though. Considering that I couldn't remember the word 'freon' two days ago and I've also forgotten 2 birthdays in as many weeks, I'm not too surprised about this memory lapse, either. (I read about a recent study that documents the fact that pregnant women actually DO have impaired memories...the study authors concluded that the impairment was 'minor', but I beg to differ).
  Anyway, the decor was cute and the food was pretty good, definitely less greasy than Chinese food in the US. If you're looking for an economical lunch around Tokoha University, then this place is it. The portions were quite large by Japanese standards, and my lunch set was only 700 yen.
  If you're interested in finding this place, let me know since I'm sure I'll come up with the name at some point!

                                                Massive Lunch Set

More Heda

Posted on Saturday, September 18, 2010 | 0 comments

         It's been so busy these past few weeks that I haven't had time to finish posting pics from our weekend getaway to Izu. The ones below are from my early-morning walk in Heda, before the cloud cover lifted. More of Izu to follow; right now I have to go bake peanut-butter cookies for the dinner party we're attending tomorrow evening!


33 Weeks

Posted on Wednesday, September 15, 2010 | 0 comments

              About 7 weeks to go, assuming that Sigourney doesn't decide to pop out early. At the last check a week and a half ago, she was just over 4 lbs, well above the average size for babies here at that stage. Guess those big European genes are already showing themselves!
  Speaking of big, let me mention that I managed to trim my toenails the night before last. This probably actually seems like a small (and completely unrelated) event for those of you who've never been pregnant, but let me tell you...when you're 33 weeks along and can manage to contort yourself in such a manner that you can trim your own toenails, it's a BIG deal! I won't say that I did the best job, but at this point we're settling for 'good enough'!


First Ikura of the Season

Posted on Monday, September 13, 2010 | 0 comments

      We had the first ikura (salmon eggs) of the season on Saturday, in the form of an ikura rice bowl. While I've been avoiding any and all raw fish while pregnant, the ikura were simply too much to resist. I managed to rationalize eating them in consideration of the fact that ikura are actually caviar, not raw fish. Right? Right. In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed it and didn't get sick, so all's well that ends well! Thanks again Otousan!

                          My rice bowl: ikura with (cooked) crab meat and Japanese radish sprouts

                                      A little piece of paradise in a bowl

                                                   Not my sake

                                   Yuki's rice bowl: same as mine, only with salmon sashimi, too

Izu Coast

Posted on Saturday, September 11, 2010 | 0 comments

                  A few more pics fron Izu that I took on the way down to our hotel...the peninsula is famous for scuba diving and fishing, so there are lots of little port villages scattered around the coast.There's not really anything in most of them that would qualify for a spot in a guidebook, but they make for a beautiful drive!

Heda Elegance Dinner

Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 | 0 comments

   Here are pictures of the various courses we ate for dinner at Heda Elegance last weekend...needless to say, that'll be the last time I eat so much before this baby arrives! 'Uncomforable' would be a rather mild word to describe how I was feeling after we finally finished eating!

                                    The dining room

                         My appetizer...apparently when we requested 'nothing raw', they forgot that smoked meat isn't exactly cooked. The seafood was great, though!

                                 Yuki's appetizer

                           Cream of pumpkin soup

                           The fish course (I was full by this point)

                           Fillet mignon

                            Finally, dessert! Wonderful meal, but way, WAY too much, even if you're not 8 months' pregnant!

Heda Elegance in Izu

Posted on Thursday, September 09, 2010 | 0 comments

           Yuki and I finally got away to celebrate our anniversary last weekend (only a week late). We stayed overnight at our favorite Japanese-style inn on the Izu peninsula, about a 2 hour drive from here. I think I'll do a separate post on the food at this place alone, but for now here are a few pics of the owners' new puppy and the view from the natural hot spring spa.
  Sadly, the previous dog, Sakura (I may or may not have posted some pics of her previously?), passed away from cancer some time after our visit last year. She was only 10 years old, and so we were sadly surprised to hear the news when we contacted the owners to make reservations. However, the new dog, Moko, looks quite a bit like her and is very friendly. I'm already looking forward to playing with her again next year!

                                     A warm welcome from Moko at the reception desk

                                      She's a licker

            View from the bath...it's hard to see, but that's the ocean just past the roof of the inn

                                 Ears up!  

8 Months!

Posted on Wednesday, September 08, 2010 | 0 comments

             Here's the 8-month belly pic...I still don't feel all that huge yet, except of course when some random person tells me (on an almost daily basis now) 'WOW, you're BIG!'. Apparently this is supposed to be a compliment here, although I can't imagine any Western woman wanting to hear it, pregnant or not.
  In terms of Sigourney activity...at the checkup on Saturday, the ultrasound showed that she's now grown tired of the head-down position and has situation herself sideways across my abdomen. So, while not breech, she's transverse instead. And judging by the hiccups on my left and the kicks to my right, she's still in that position tonight. Keep your fingers crossed that she settles into a head-down instead of head-up position at some point within the next few weeks! 

                              Sushi testing out the new baby crib. I think she approves

                            Wasabi prefers to hide underneath it instead

The Most Original Wedding Ever

Posted on Wednesday, September 08, 2010 | 0 comments

   We attended a good friend's wedding party on the 28th of last month, and I've been dying to write about it but am only just now finding the time.
  The happy couple got married last year, but with the way things work in Japan, you don't have to have a ceremony in order to get your marriage license--you just go to the city hall and sign some paperwork. It's a bit of a letdown, actually. At least, when Yuki and I went and signed our papers, I remember thinking that there should've been a bit more fanfare involved!
 Hence, the practice of having wedding ceremonies and parties here anyway, even though they're not actually necessary. While they may occur around the time of the actual marriage, they obviously don't have to and can therefore to adjusted to accommodate the bride and groom's schedules.
  Anyway, this wedding party was held near Mt Fuji, at an inn close to Lake Yamanaka (Yamanakako). The ceremony itself occurred just before twilight on the back lawn of the inn, having been preceded by a garden party in the front. While the ceremony wasn't technically supposed to occur so late in the day (it was delayed due to a massive traffic jam that prevented many guests, including ourselves, from arriving on time--sorry again, Kato-san!), I thought that the lighting at the time was perfect for the event.
   Let me also mention just how creative, artistic, and musical the bride and groom are--as was evidenced in every aspect of this event. To begin with, after filing out to the rear lawn and greeting the groom, we all stood in a large ring around the ceremony site and waited for the bride...only to have the solemnity of the moment interrupted by....a chimp shrieking???
 Sure enough, from various openings in the bushes, a rather large chimp-like creature could be seen, hooting and making his way around the group towards the groom.
  The priest had arrived! Dressed in a chimp costume (complete with full stage makeup) topped by a priest's cassock, this guy (a friend of the groom's) looked like someone right out of Planet of the Apes. Considering that acting is his job, I shouldn't have been so surprised at how GOOD he was, but in my defense, I've never had the chance to see any of his plays in Tokyo.
  Not to steal the bride's thunder, though, the 'priest' took his spot and quieted down in time for the procession to begin. Following a cute flower girl, the bride arrived in style, wearing a vintage Dior gown. After a fun ceremony involving several bad puns by the 'ape' and a beautiful song performed by the groom, we were dismissed to change into our costumes before the dinner party began.
  That's right, dinner was a costume party. Those of us invited to the wedding had been divided into sub-groups, and each group was given a theme. Our group's theme was something along the lines of 'haunted' or 'ghostly', while others had themes such as 'the beach', 'Victorian' (or maybe it was princess?), etc. While the work that went into some of these costumes was truly amazing, once again the bride and groom showed their imagination throughout the rest of the night with several more costume changes of their own.
  At one point, the groom was dressed as the Egg man (as in, 'I am the Walrus') and the bride as Yoko Ono, while their final costumes involved the groom dressed as a bride, and the bride as a male rocker. I'm pretty sure there was a musical reference with those final costumes too, but I will admit to being rather naive about what it was!
  Live musical performances and skits involved one (male) friend in a wedding gown, and another dressed as a character from the groom's artwork on the various albums he's released.
  Near the end of the party, the bride and groom smashed their wedding 'cake' to smithereens with the help of some drum sticks. Finally, as part of the finale, there was a best-costume contest (Lady Gaga, my pregnant angel, and others were beaten by an adorable baby princess).

  All in all, an extremely unique and memorable wedding celebration! I would love to go into more detail but will in the interest of finally getting this posted will let the pictures speak for themselves. Thanks again, Kato and Mayumi!

                                The garden party

                                        Bride and groom during the ceremony

                                              The 'priest'

                               Devil and angel (with baby devil horns popping out)

                                  One of the performances

                               Die cake, die!!!

                                      Cute Disney princess

                                    The devil wears...bifocals